Global Junk Food


In this feature, we get a glimpse into the world of fast-food advertising, mainly in developing countries. International food brands are not afraid to incorporate the local culture of these countries in the advertising of their products. For example, in Brazil, brands like Pepsi will couple their products with football. There are actually no limiting laws against marketing like this. In fact, even school children can become brand ambassadors.

Unsurprisingly, a large portion of the population suffers from obesity and there is no doubt that fast food consumption is a major contributing factor. Since brands also sponsor school-based events in the form of edutainment, very young children consume these unhealthy products too. An interview with a chef reveals interesting details about what the companies consider priority in producing their food and it is not nutrition or the customers.

When confronted with the reality of their actions, brands like McDonald's deny any wrongdoing and disregard the fact that children cannot differentiate their advertising message when coupled with other forms of engagement.

Another noted issue is that while some advertisements promise international quality, when the products are actually compared, the amount of saturated fats in countries like India is so much more than in countries like France. The fact that there are some regulatory food laws in France may contribute to this difference.

However, it is revealed that even in countries where there are laws, companies still find some way to get around it. For instance, In Europe, brands like Oreo and Fanta make games for children, and children simply engage with their products without even being able to differentiate that they are being advertised to. Oftentimes, parents are not even aware these games exist. No sanctions exist, and there is no need for parental approval.

It raises questions about who should actually take responsibility for these issues. Is it parents, advertisers, international brands, marketers and developers, or policymakers? Or is it on the level of the individual consumer to decide what is most healthy for them?

It is quite an interesting problem which, in order to be addressed, will require political courage to create sanctions and regulations. The viewpoint offered is a detailed and interesting one that sparks even further interest into the issue.

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