Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fighting Childhood Obesity with Donuts?

Oh the hypocrisy.

An article in the New York times last month discussed the odd coupling of Rachael Ray (celebrity Food Network chef) with Bill Clinton's Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

The Alliance's mission?

"To eliminate childhood obesity and to inspire all young people in the United States to develop lifelong, healthy habits."
On the Alliance's homepage as I type this is a picture of Clinton laughing with Rachael.

Rachael should be the one laughing, one of those evil cartoon villain I pulled the wool over the good guys' faces laughs, because Rachael's other other job is being a corporate shill for.....wait for it....Dunkin' Donuts.

In Dunkin' Donutss press release announcing Rachael as their new brand representative, Dunkin' Donuts' Brand President Robert Rodriguez has a lovely quote,
"Rachael's philosophy of creating quality meals quickly and without pretense for busy people living busy lives is the same driving force behind the Dunkin' Donuts brand."
Well I guess it's true that donuts are quick and without pretense, but meals?

What does Rachael have to say,
"Me, I don’t want to talk about obesity. I want to talk about how fun healthy food is, period."
Donuts sure are healthy - they are a perfect fit for fostering the lifelong healthy habits the Alliance is hoping to instill in America's children.

Brilliant move Bill.

[Hat Tip to Jack from Fork and Bottle and bottom picture to Gallery of the Absurd]

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  1. Anonymous4:50 pm

    Actually, over 67% of sales at a typical successful Dunkin' Donuts are COFFEE. Doughnuts are generally a miniscule part of the business, especially in the northeastern U.S.

    If you actually listen to RR's DD commercials, they are specifically about DUNKIN" DONUTS COFFEE. How it keeps RR going. THe only food that er TV ad even slightly mentions is a bagel.

  2. RuddCenter3:43 pm

    I saw that you ran across the "Fat Kids Can't Hunt," post on the Rudd Center's Blog and wanted to re-engage in the conversation.

    You're right, there is some evil laughing going on right now, but I'm not sure who is doing it. The hardest thing about the RR-Dunkin' Donuts story is that branding doesn't work at the conscious level, so most people will never know what is happening.

    Here is what the subconscious could do, however, RR=food=Alliance for a Healthier Generation=Healthy=RR=donuts= donuts are healthy. Pretty soon, you find yourself saying to a friend, "I don't know why, I just think that donuts are healthy, aren't they boiled, or is that bagels, anyway, they seem healthy."

    The same thing happens when McDonald's promotes exercise through pedometers or jungle gyms, so that you connect exercise with health, McDonald's with exercise, and by proxy, McDonald's with health.

    I would be curious to see a list of personality brands like RR who are working for health causes and food companies.

  3. I actually did not see the Rudd Center's post on Rachael but will go back and peek.

    I agree, branding is insidious.

    That's exactly why, even though I'm a very cynical guy, I was absolutely floored to see Dean Ornish on McDonald's website.

    Ornish must know that regardless of what he says on the site people make the unconscious leap that he's endorsing McDonald's as a healthy destination.

    Of course the cynical guy in me just thinks that clearly everyone can be bought.

  4. The question really comes down to: How much spin can an unhealthy product receive to give the illusion it’s healthy? Rachel Ray’s endorsement of Dunkin Donuts, however indirect it may be, represents the height of name-recognition abuse and “health conscious meal” hypocrisy. Like you, I’m far too cynical to give a good-tempered comment regarding the “synergy between DD and RR.”

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with RR endorsing kids making healthier food choices. And RR’s Yum-O, a non-profit organization that “empowers kids and families to improve their relationship to food and cooking,” isn’t necessarily a waste of her time. I have to stop and wonder though, how many kids actually know who RR is? Didn’t she come up through the cookbook gauntlet with 30 minute meals?

  5. Nice post! You have said it very well. Keep going.