"The food industry spends more than $33 Billion — with a B — each year on advertising and promotion. In contrast, the National Cancer Institute spends $1 million a year to promote fruits & veggies.
Surely, the NCI isn’t the only one on our side, but still... this imbalance paints a clear picture of what we’re up against."
I read this blurb last year on Eating Rules, a blog I respect and regularly visit. (PS: I wrote a guest post there that I'm particularly proud of... have a look!)
Okay. This particular quote, believe it or not, has been bugging me for more than a year, and I just couldn't figure out why (yes, I'm obsessive like that). There's clearly an element of defeatism about it--something I hate to read in food blogs, because I believe consumers should take their power and their decision-making capabilities into their own hands.
There was something else wrong with the implicit logic here, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. It wasn't until the other day that I figured out exactly what it was.
Here's what I mean. $33 billion is a lot, right? I mean, that's an incomprehensibly large amount of money to everyone--except perhaps to dudes like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
So when we think about "a clear picture of what we're up against" and that clear picture includes incomprehensibly large sums of money, it's easy to think we're all doomed, isn't it? Nobody can fight off $33 billion bucks of advertising, right? Sigh. Yeah, I give up. Pass me the Doritos.
It shouldn't surprise readers here at CK when I call bullshit on a thought process like this. So I'm going to break out my calculator and do some math--and prove that we're actually "up against" something that's hilariously easy to resist.
The truth is, that $33 billion of food advertising spent annually in the USA works out to $107 per person per year.
You don't think you can resist $107 worth of annual advertising? Nine dollars a month? You're going to cry uncle and give away your ability to choose your own food in the face of nine bucks a month?
Are you so incapable of thinking for yourself that you'd willingly sell your power and your free will at that low a price?
Readers, share your thoughts!
Prices, Zombies and the Advertising-Consumption Cycle
Ten Thoughts On the True Value of Brands
Told to Eat Its Vegetables, The New York Times Wrings Its Hands
How to Own the Consumer Products Industry--And I Mean Literally Own It
The Economics of Wasteful Foods
Stacked Costs and Second-Order Foods: A New Way to Think About Food Costs
A Reader Asks for Help
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