Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Big Food flexes marketing muscles to combat fat taxes

There are two consumer options for "fat taxes".

There's disincentive taxation whereby for instance sugar sweetened beverages are taxed so dramatically that it decreases their consumption or there's incentive taxation where a nominal tax is levied to raise money to be spent on educational programs, health food subsidies etc.

Not surprisingly Big Food's not happy.

So what are they doing about it?

Well aside from intense lobbying and pressuring of elected officials they're after your hearts and they're doing it under cover.

They're calling themselves, "Americans Against Food Taxes", but looking at their About Us page you'll quickly find that they're a collection of who's who in Big Food.

They've put together an ad campaign meant to paint any type of consumer taxation as governmental quashing of good healthy fun and simple pleasures.

Looking back at Kelly Brownell and Kenneth Warner's Big Tobacco playbook their initial 30 second ad makes these 3 plays

  • Focus on personal responsibility as the cause of the nation’s unhealthy diet.
  • Raise fears that government action usurps personal freedom.
  • Emphasize physical activity over diet.

  • Don't get duped by slick marketing. While there's certainly room for debate over the merits of fat taxes, it's not in the realm of big bad government ruining your family's ability to enjoy life.

    Brownell KD, & Warner KE (2009). The perils of ignoring history: Big Tobacco played dirty and millions died. How similar is Big Food? The Milbank quarterly, 87 (1), 259-94 PMID: 19298423