Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bananas and Snackfoods

These advertisements were launched in August 2009 as the snackfood and advertising industries awaited the outcome of the National Preventative Health Taskforce's recommendations for addressing obesity.

The campaign was developed by David Chenu, domestic marketing manager for Horticulture Australia (HAL), an industry owned rural research and development corporation (RDC) for the Australian horticulture sector. HAL’s purpose is to be accountable for the efficient and effective investment of industry and government funds in R&D and industry investment in marketing. HAL’s funding is derived from a combination of statutory industry levies (from growers for R&D and marketing), voluntary contributions (from grower associations, commercial enterprises, researchers and individuals), and Australian Government matching funds for eligible R&D, as well as other sources such as royalties and investments.
Prior to working with Horticulture Australia Chenu worked with Beef & Lamb, Tasmanian Salmon and in the ‘90s he worked at CSR on the extremely successful, Natural Part of Life campaign for the Sugar Industry (1990s). Other progams he has contributed to include: Iron and Lean Beef for Meat Standards Australia MSA) and Trim Lamb. (See also MSA's Australia Day Lamb advertisements featuring Sam Kekovich).
The banana campaign was created by retail agency Eleven Communications. Director of creative strategy Jonathan McCauley said it was designed to leverage public concern over rising obesity levels.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Selling Hygiene to Men

For a commentary on the ad see the Sydney Morning Herald.

Can Dr Pepper's Mid-Cal Soda Score a 10 With Men?

With 'Testosterone Zones,' Muscled Commando, Brand Looks to Avoid Earlier Marketing Missteps by Pepsi Max, Coke Zero

Dr Pepper doesn't want there to be any confusion. Its new 10-calorie soda is simply "Not for Women."

Dr Pepper Ten, a reduced-calorie soda, is unapologetically targeting men, a bold move in a category that has had its fair share of marketing missteps. Coke Zero and Pepsi Max, both billed as full-flavored sodas with zero calories, had difficulty nailing down the right message for a diet product that's meant to appeal to men.
Aware of those missteps, Dr Pepper is rolling out an extensive test campaign for the new product, its packaging and marketing. Dave Fleming, director-marketing at Dr Pepper, called the test, which runs from now through June, "elaborate," saying the strategy is atypical for the company, though he declined to discuss his competitors' forays in the space. Coke Zero appeals to men via a Nascar partnership and movies such as "Tron: Legacy" and Pepsi Max through its sponsorship of the NFL, though neither explicitly proclaim they are men's products. Pepsi Max scrapped its "diet cola for men" tag last year.
Dr Pepper Ten was created for 25- to 34-year-old men who prefer regular Dr Pepper but want fewer calories. And its inclusion of 10 calories, rather than zero like its competitors, allowed it to deliver a flavor closer to the regular version, Mr. Fleming says.
"We have a lot of excitement about this and wanted to give it fair treatment, so it would resemble a national launch in test markets," he said. "We want to make sure that, if we do take this national, we understand all the variables."
To that end, Dr Pepper Ten will be trotted out with commercials created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, Los Angeles, which also handled out-of-home, digital and in-store efforts. A mobile "Man Cave" will also travel to each of six test markets, including Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Mo.; and San Antonio and Austin, Texas. The branded trailer will set up in "testosterone zones" such as ball fields or car shows and give men a place to watch TV and play video games. Mr. Fleming declined to comment on the budget for the effort, though he said it resembles what the brand would spend for a national launch, on a local basis. Interpublic's Initiative handled media buying.
The packaging and marketing are both heavy on masculinity, but also clearly state the brand proposition, something Coke Zero and Pepsi Max struggled with. Coke Zero's first campaign, "Everybody Chill," left consumers confused, as did Pepsi Max's original billing as a diet drink that was a cross between an energy drink and a cola.
On the can, a slate gray background is offset by Dr Pepper's logo and a red box proclaiming the product's "10 Bold Tasting Calories." The commercial features a muscled commando type sprinting through the jungle dodging lasers and toting a space-age weapon. "Hey ladies, enjoying the film?" he asks. "'Course not. Because this is our movie, and Dr Pepper Ten is our soda." He signs off by telling women everywhere they can "keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks."

Mr. Fleming said he's not out to alienate women, that the goal is to be direct and have fun. "Did we have a conversation about how far we wanted to go with this message? Absolutely," he said. "But we did the research, and it scored well with men and women."
In theory, so-called mid-calorie sodas will appeal equally to men and women, with a sweet spot among 25- to 34-year-olds, said Bill Pecoriello, CEO of Consumer Edge Research. But he points out that Dr Pepper Ten is clearly intended to appeal to the target market staked out by Coke Zero and Pepsi Max. Both brands have found success. Pepsi Max became PepsiCo's 19th billion-dollar brand in 2009, and Coke Zero is one of Coke's most successful launches ever, consistently posting double-digit sales gains.
Mid-calorie sodas such as Dr Pepper Ten could be just the boost the struggling soft-drink category needs, as consumers look to trim calories from their diets and health advocates blame the fizzy drinks for obesity and diabetes. Earlier efforts, including C2 and Pepsi Edge, flopped, but now some in the industry believe this in-between category could appeal to consumers, said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. "I think that full-calorie beverages continue to have difficult headwinds," Mr. Sicher said. "The performance we're seeing from brands like Coke Zero, Diet Mtn Dew and Diet Dr Pepper indicates that diets and perhaps mid-cals may be the future route to growth for the soda category."
Mr. Fleming hedged when asked what sort of potential Dr Pepper Ten could have, saying only that the company is "very excited" and would be closely watching the test markets to see how consumers react to the product and the marketing.

Shaping Our Health by Influencing Food trends

SHIFT is in place to push back on the heavy marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages directed to teens and particularly black teens. In today’s world, marketing shapes what we like, what we can afford, and what products are available, and food is no exception. Marketing bad health by overselling unhealthy foods and beverages can affect the health of communities over time.

SHIFT is designed to engage teens in leading an initiative to demonstrate that healthier foods should be advertised, available, and affordable in all communities and that there should be relatively less marketing of unhealthy foods. 

The LEGO Boys Club - Lego & Gender

The LEGO Boys Club - Lego & Gender Part 1

The LEGO Boys Club - Lego & Gender Part 2

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Documentary: Marley, Directed by Kevin McDonald, 2012

Kevin McDonald’s recent Marley Documentary opens with footage taken at the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, where many of sixty million Africans slaves departed for the New World– through the door of no return. The next scene cuts to a live performance of “Exodus (“movement of Jah people”).

The narrative of the film covers Bob Marley’s progression from his early years as a ska and mento artist, his early pioneering reggae recordings produced by Lee Perry and his relative short but intense rise to international fame that began with the release of Catch A Fire (1974) on island records and ended with his death at the age of 36 from cancer in 1981. The film is narrated in part by the music. Marley’s early life, shaped by his ambiguous position, neither white nor black, features in his first single, “Judge Not”, 1962. As the Wailers get together, and their sound is influenced by black American soul, the soundtrack shifts from the Wailers first single- “Simmer Down”, 1963 to “Put it on” (1965) and - “It’s aright” (1970). “Selassie is the Chapel” (1968) highlights a growing Rastafarian consciousness, under the tutorship of Mortimer Planno. The film then moves on to Marley’s historic reggae recordings of the early 1970s produced by Lee Perry ("Duppy Conqueror"), his move to London in 1973 the subsequent first LP on Island Records, the departure of Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the inclusion of the I-Threes, the recording of Natty Dread and the subsequent Natty Dread Tour (“Kinky Reggae”, 1975).

Thus begins Marley’s rise, not only to international pop stardom, but also as a postcolonial political voice characterised by a generosity as well as militancy, and an ability to bring people together (“one love”). These qualities seem to mark Marley out as distinct from other musical and political revolutionaries like James Brown, Fela Kuti and Malcolm X. The international period of Marley’s career was punctuated by three concerts. Smile Jamaica (1976), which took place only three days after an assassination attempt on Marley and his entire entourage, when Marley, Rita Marley and manager Don Taylor were all injured. The political pressure, fear and bravery of that performance is palpable. Marley appears as a Christ like figure as he stands on stage and opens his shirt to reveal his bullet wounds.Following The Smile Jamaica concert Marley retreated to London where he lived as an exile.

The next great concert took place in 1978. As Jamaica once more prepared to go to the polls, and as the nation was once more consumed by political violence, three of the countries notorious gunmen flew to London ask Marley to return to Kingston to help quell the violence. Marley agreed and the result was the “One Love Peace concert”. The scene features magnificent footage of Marley bringing the two opposing leaders, Michael Manly and Edward Seaga, to the stage.

The third significant concert in Marley’s international career took place in Zimbabwe following the declaration of independence on 17 April 1980. Marley’s song “Zimbabwe” was an anthem of the resistance movement. As the concert got underway, fifty thousand fighters who were locked out of the stadium decided to come in. The gates were flattened and security forces opened up with tear gas. Marley played on. These stories of heroism and politics are unmatched in the annals of popular music.

Underlying the stories behind these three concerts are Marley’s’ attempts to engage with an African American audience and wonderful interviews with many of Marley’s family and associates, including Cedella Booker Marley (mother), Bunny Wailer, Jimmy Cliff (artist), Clive Chin (producer- Randy’s Records), Chris Blackwell (producer- Island Records), Aston “Family Man” Barrett (bass player), Lee Perry, Bob Andy, Junior Marvin (guitarist), Allan “Skill" Cole (manager), and Danny Sims (Manager). Also present are the stories of Marley’s relationships with women. Rita Marley featured prominently in the film, as did Cindy Breakspeare (crowned Miss World in 1976). The daughter of the dictator of Libreville, with whom Marley had a brief relationship, was also interviewed. Marley’s eleven children were represented by Ziggy Marley and Cedella Marley, who expressed her frustration with her famous and in-demand father.

Underlying the story was the knowledge of Marley’s imminent death. Marley contracted melanoma on his big toe following a football accident in London in 1977. Although part of the toe was removed, Marley collapsed in New York in September 1980 following a show at Madison Square Gardens. Marley went on to perform his next show, an heroic feat, and never performed again. He received treatment fro the famed Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York, but there was nothing that could be done. He was discharged in October in October 1980. In November he flew to Bavaria to the clinic of Dr. Josef Issels. The scenes of Marley, in the freezing conditions, his dread locks having fallen out, small and frail, are heartbreaking. But Marley refused to give up. He flew from Bavaria to Miami on May 8, 1981 and died on May 11.

The image of Marley that emerges from the film emphasises his courage, his generosity, his deep religious commitments, his political convictions and his ability to bring people together. In many respects he was not unlike Barack Obama- half black, half white, able to move between different worlds and break down barriers. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kane Race, Pleasure Consuming Medicine: The Queer Politics of Drugs, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2009.


The basis of Pleasure Consuming Medicine is a contemporary distinction between the institution of health and medicine and, on the other hand, commodified forms of health and medicine. These two entities or institutions, Race argues, were separated from one another during the course of the twentieth century via a process of institutionalisation, licensing and authorisation. The institution of health has been defined as objective, disinterested and focused solely on the promotion of good health. The commercial business of health consumerism, on the other hand, has been represented as self-interested, focused on consumption rather than health and as quackery.

Race argues that institutional health insists on defining its role in terms of a return of a “normal” state - as recuperative. This can be seen in the way that health promotion strategies focus on the negative implications of ostensibly unhealthy practices. Poor or negative health behaviours are defined as an aberration from a right, proper or better path. These behaviours therefore need to be corrected. This logic can be seen in almost all tobacco cessation interventions. This contrasts with a commercial approach to the promotion (or marketing) of health. At a basic level, you won’t see Diet Coke (for example) specifically invoking health concerns about obesity- even though these concerns might inform its corporate marketing strategies. Rather, these healthy products are marketed in terms of gendered and cultural norms about style, pleasure and performance.

Race argues that this distinction between institutional and commercial health is unsustainable. He is especially interested in politicising the “normal” or healthy body that underlies institutional health’s claim to distinction (its sense of objectivity or disinterestedness). His work places seemingly objective institutional forms of health and drug consumption next to commercial or self-interested forms of health and drug consumption.

More specifically, Race advocates an emphasis on pleasure as the basis of health and health promotion. The rationale for this is Foucault’s suggestion that pleasure is “less caught up in the whole apparatus that extracts a truth-value from embodied experience” It is capable of considering “different practices and conceptions of responsibility” and more open to “historical construction, practical variation and creative experimentation.” (pp. viii-xi).

Race’s book is principally concerned with the lessons that can be learned from the response to the AIDs epidemic. What is the nature of this response? Race talks about the importance of the kinds of “pleasures”, imagination and “fantasies” that animated the gay “community” in Sydney in the 1990s (p.22). These pleasures and fantasies can be defined, in part, through an analysis of the gay dance party, with its origins in the disco movement in New York in the 1970s.

What, in turn, are the implications of this emphasis for health and health promotion initiatives? In a consideration of an event entitled the Wheel of Misfortune, set up to provide “clear and accessible information around [AIDS] treatment side effects”, “part educative intervention, part peer support, and part good night out” (p. 128),  Race talks about the importance of style and, more specifically, camp (pp. 132-33). “This embodied style”, Race writes, “has been actively and usefully deployed to throw these matters up for public consideration, elaboration and concern” (135). This emphasis on style can be understood in terms of the work of Bourdieu and which has been applied to the “embodied character of cultural discrimination” which is apparent in popular music tastes (for example) (pp 150-1). The emphasis on style remains important whether or not that style is condoned by normative morals and norms.

As a critical analysis of contemporary public health policies, Races book is a tour de force. Given the wide range of analytical tools it brings to bear on its subject, the book should be high on the reading list of all in critical public health (or “counterpublic health”). The broad scope of Race’s focus can be confusing. In the first few pages of the book he defines the object of his critique as “medical subjectivity”, “medical rationality”, “medical authority”, “the medical sphere”, “the scene of health and medicine”, “the current biomedical context”, the “sociomedical” and “drug regimes”. The use of these inter-related terms is very difficult to follow. Nevertheless, it does not detract from (and may even contribute to) the suggestive power of the book.

Ultimately, Race’s book is a challenge and provocation. It highlights the fact that health is a contested term. Different entities - ranging from the institution of health to the pharmaceutical industry, to entrepreneurs working in the market for health, and beyond - invoke health in differing ways. The book suggests that institutional health, despite its claims to moral authority, might not always have the best or only answers. It suggests the need for these different and at-times opposing parties to sit around the same table and to share ideas. Finally, The book has practical and important implications for health promotion through its focus on the “situated nature of serious harms”, “particular embodied styles”, “collective subjectivities” and, specifically, the “articulation of pleasure” (p. 154-60).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Food, politics and popular culture

Issues relating obesity, including access to healthy food, the cost of healthy food and access to opportunities for physical recreation are political- shaped by race, class and even gender. In the case of obesity for example, men are consistently more vulnerable than women across Canada, the United States and Australia. One of the great exceptions to this rule occurs amongst African American women. Rates of obesity amongst African American women have not only been higher than amongst African American men or white men, in 2009 African American women were 60% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women. Framing health as a cultural phenomenon mitigates against the (neoliberal) emphasis on individual choice, skill and responsibility promoted by reality television shows such as The Biggest Loser and Masterchef.
Framing health (in this case obesity) as a cultural phenomenon provides an important backdrop to debates about access ton resources, about food pricesfood justice and access to green spaces
It also raises significant questions about the political engagement with food and health in popular culture. Thus, for example:
George McKay talks about gardening (for example) as "attacks rather than retreats". Rastafarianism, accompanying a radical racial politics and militant popular music, promotes a rigid food philosophy. Leonard E. Barrett (in The Rastafarians, 1988, 1997) writes:
"One of the prime staples of the Rastas is fish, but only of the small variety, not more tan twelve inches long... All larger fish are predators and represent the establishment - Babylon - where men eat men. But the food of the greatest worth to the cultists is vegetables of almost every kind. Like ganja, the earth brings forth all god things (pp. 141-142).
Similarly, in music, a critique of food and food practices has often accompanied a radical politics. This is especially true in hop hop. While hip hop has often been associated with unhealthy versions of masculinity, with artists such as the Fat Boys, Big Pun (who died of a massive heart attack age 28 in 2000), the movement has also featured a strong emphasis on what Byron Hurt describes as a "culture of wellness". In the 1980s and '90s, while KRS-One, in "another public service announcement", was rapping about the chemical byproducts in beef, 5 percent rappers and Nation of Islam rappers were reading Elija Muhammed's Eat to Live and A Tribe called Quest was rapping: "I don't eat no ham n' eggs, cuz they're high in cholesterol" on their first album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990). The relationship between hip hop and health has increased as many rappers have started to age into their thirties and forties. Fat Joe, for example, whose first album, Represent (1993), featured the song "Livin' Fat", lost 88 pounds in mid-2011 afetr losing seven friends in a year to heart atack, all in their thirties.

Funk Music and Superheroic Black Masculinities