Maybe the title of this blog post is a little straight forward. It’s a bit like the saying, "Is the Pope Catholic?" or “Do bears ..............?" Of course they do.
Are marketers clever? Of course they are. That’s their job remember!
I wanted to bring to your attention a couple of ads that I’ve recently spotted on the tv or on a billboard, which I think reflect the title of ‘clever marketing’. And I feel, as a dietitian, it’s MY job to stand up and give you the honest truth about these products, to reveal just how healthy, or unhealthy, they really are.
#1 Clever Ad: Nutri-Grain
Now yes, the marketers are right. Nutri-Grain is high in protein. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals. But let’s go back to basics and have a look at this cereal from an overall nutritional perspective. The shape and the fact that it looks highly processed is your first clue. This high level of processing means that dietary fibre and other essential vitamins and minerals are lost in the process, some are then added back in. Refined products generally have a higher glycaemic index (GI) and are lower in fibre. Nutri-Grain has a GI of 66 (moderate) and contains 2.7g fibre per 100g. Dietary fibre is a crucial nutrient in breakfast cereals as breakfast is one of the highest contributors to fibre intake throughout the day. Aim to choose a cereal that contains >6g/100g fibre.
Other nutritional specifications not mentioned in the advertising campaign are its high sugar and salt content. Containing 9.6g of sugar per 30g (1 cup) serving of Nutri-Grain, this means that for every cup you have, there are 2 tsps of sugar already in that serving. Now, if most growing young lads are anything like my brother was, then their cereal bowl would probably be around double or triple that serving size. So for example a 90g serving of Nutri-Grain will contain almost 30g sugar, or 6 teaspoons! Not to mention if sugar is then added on top. Nutri-Grain also contains a surprising amount of added salt, with 600mg sodium per 100g. A good guide for breakfast cereals is to choose one with less than 400mg/100g sodium.
All in all, if you are striving to be an iron man, or maybe you just want to take care of your body and know that you are making a healthy breakfast choice, the best cereal choices are those that are low GI, wholegrain, minimally processed, low in saturated fat, with minimal added sugar and salt.
My recommendations: Natural mueslis (not with too much dried fruit) in the summer, and porridge (made on rolled oats, not quick oats) in the winter.
#2 Clever Ad: Subway - Win a Trip Around the World
This ad is clearly marketed to the young people of today. It’s the one where that young, messy haired surfy guy is sitting on the beach in his wetsuit talking about how if you buy a Coke with your sub, you could win a trip around the world.
And don’t forget, it’s gonna be epic.
I love this ad, the language, the actor, the competition, everything is perfectly suited and marketed to the target group, particularly those with the travel bug or those that need any excuse to get up and go overseas.
The fact of the matter is though, it’s just a sales pitch. They are luring you in to buy that Coke by waving that carrot at you, the very slim chance of winning a trip around the world. If you check out the Subway website they even have a page dedicated to the promotion and an interactive map of places where you could end up if you win the comp.
My advice: Don’t get caught up with these promotions. Go have an epic journey overseas, you don’t need to drink Coke to get you there. Coke is not a drink that you should be having with your lunch, dinner, or any meal for that matter on a regular basis. The best fluid you can go for is water, it's calorie free, additive free, acid free and sugar free. It won't rot your teeth or expand the waistline. Now that’s a marketing campaign right there!
I think it’s also a little sneaky of Subway to have this campaign going, as Subway have always marketed itself as one of the ‘healthier’ take away choices ie. their slogans of "eat fresh" and "less than 6 grams of fat". Having a promotion with Coke goes against this principle and also gives young people the idea that it’s ok to have a soft drink with their lunch. This is not a habit you want to be getting into!
#3 Clever Ad: Vitamin Water
I once flew into Brisbane airport, walked off the plane, and in the distance I see a large billboard, with the words
“Spank Those Naughty Little Oxidants”
I must admit this billboard was quite amusing to me at first. I could imagine that some young hot shot marketing grad had come up with this one. Then I wondered how their marketing team had got away with this sexually derived billboard - had no one complained?
This advertising was for a product called Vitamin Water. It is a flavoured water that is marketed to Gen X & Y consumers who think it's cool to drink out of a bottle that apparently is 'healthier' than soft drinks as it contains 'vitamins'. Of course it does, that's why it's called Vitamin Water, right?
Does Vitamin Water contain vitamins?
Yes. The drink has been fortified with vitamins (vitamins have been mechanically added).
Does this mean it's healthy?
No. Now don't get me wrong, it's great that CocaCola (the company that makes Vitamin Water) wants to add vitamins to their beverages. Unfortunately, the drinks have very little nutritional value. The vitamins added are a great way to entice consumers to purchase the product, as it looks healthy. They also come in a range of flavours, each a bright colour, that contains various properties which can be very appealing to the consumer.
But when I tell you that a Vitamin Water has almost as much sugar as a can of coke, would you reconsider? Not only are these products ladden with sugar, they also have many additives such as artificial colours which in some studies have been linked to hyperactivity in children. Another 'additive' that is a selling point for these drinks is caffeine.
These products also do not come cheap. A Vitamin Water I looked at purchasing for the purpose of this blog cost $3.59 for a 500mL bottle. When you compare this to tap water, which is free, or bottled water, at $2 per 600mL, water is clearly most cost effective option.
When you compare sugar, water comes in at 0g whilst Vitmain Water comes in at 27g (or 6 teaspoons!!) When you compare calories, water comes in at 0kJ whilst Vitamin Water comes in at 470kJ. Water is clearly the best choice.
What about the antioxidant stuff?
'Spanking those naughty little oxidants', using the Vitamin Water language refers to the fact that these flavoured waters contain antioxidants, which act to reduce free radical or ‘oxidant’ damage in the body. However you don’t need to drink vitamin enhanced waters in order to get your antioxidants, and the Heart Foundation does not recommend it. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and drinking black or green tea is the best way to get your daily dose of antioxidants.
CHOICE Magazine also reviewed vitamin enhanced waters recently, and found that “they’re really just cordials with a few added vitamins. CHOICE recommends you treat them like any other sugary or artificial drink and enjoy only as an occasional treat.” Well said.
Now I hope I've set the story straight on a few products for you, I don't want you getting tricked by all those brilliant marketing gurus. If you've seen an ad and you want to know if it's all it's cracked up to be, let me know and i'll post an update!
Until next time, stay epic and get spanking those oxidants.