Study Authors Scandalized To Learn Advertising Works

God bless you if you have a post-graduate degree.  And kudos if you actually matriculated at a storied institution like Yale University.  But seriously, some research studies make me question people’s application of intellectual firepower.

Case in point: a recent study from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity which concluded that kids believe food with packaging that features popular licensed cartoon characters actually tastes better.  Gee, thanks for that, Captain Obvious.

Christina Roberto, the no doubt well-intentioned grad student who authored the study came to this erudite conclusion: “To me, what this shows is that the influence of characters is really so powerful, they’re powerful enough to actually have kids think that the food tastes better and that they want to choose it for snacks.”  Sweet mother of God, how much do you pay a year to come up with such bone obvious findings?

Of course celebrity endorsement works for kids–it works for every human being.  As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, we do believe basketball shoes worn by Michael Jordan will be better, make up worn by Jessica Biel must be exceptional and electric grills used by George Foreman will be a great value (that one sounds shaky, but selling over 100 million units since 1994 is hard to ignore).  We aren’t stupid, but we like reassurance about our choices and sometimes, we just like to read a more interesting cereal box.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingThe issue for the authors of the study is that because kids are susceptible to food advertising, they could make food choices that are far less healthy than they should.  But before the government intervention types get too excited, they should keep in mind that as much as some may see cartoon characters as a threat, they can also work positively.  An article in last week’s Wall Street Journal reports that the Vidalia Onion Committee partnered with Dreamworks and their release of Shrek 4– a deal that among other things, put the big green ogre on their packaging.  And sales have skyrocketed up 30-35% this year.  Through the middle of last months, this year’s sales are nearly eight million pounds ahead of last year.

Let’s see those egghead grad students try to do something like that…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


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