Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why Big Food Sponsors Kid Sports (The Less Obvious Edition)

So here I'm not talking about their primary aim of hooking new customers when they're young by the association of their brands with fun, fitness, and health.

Nope, I'm talking about something else and I'll be talking about it by means of an incredibly telling quote from down under.

To set the stage New Zealand is considering the ban of junk food advertising on public properties. Such a ban would hit venues like bus shelters, hospitals and schools, and it would also hit public events.  They're also talking about zoning laws to prevent fast food establishments from setting up shop within walking distance of schools, parks and low-socioeconomic areas.  The aim of these recommendations of course is to start detoxifying their kids' environment and reduce the impact of junk food on socio-economically related health inequalities.

In a story published in the industry friendly and always fascinating e-magazine Food-Navigator Asia the chief executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council was quoted in regard to why she didn't think the suggested regulations would be approved,
"New Zealand food companies such as Sanitarium fund triathlons and other children's events. Other companies support children's rugby, soccer, and netball. Nestle's earlier this year launched a physical education program for New Zealand schools. All these sorts of sponsorships would cease."
Seems to me those same arguments were made about tobacco funding for the arts.

Public and health institutions considering Big Food partnerships really need to remember, when you dance with the devil you don't get to pick the tune. It's really high time we start hiring some exorcists.