Double Standards: Why are fast food ad execs writing a diet book?

I guess it’s true that anyone can write a diet book. Execs from the ad agency Crispin wrote a book called “9 inch diet” already on pre-sale at Amazon. OK, first of all, what makes an ad exec qualified to give diet advice? Nothing. It is insulting to the field of nutrition. Worse, these guys clients are Burger King and Domino’s – something that they don’t disclose on the Amazon listing. The authors are personally responsible for pimping out the line of high calorie, high fat “meatnormous quad stacker” a croissant filled with quadruple meat and cheese. Now they’re going to give you advice on how to eat? Please.

Here’s what the review on Amazon had to say…

Bogusky and Porter run what is arguably the most creative advertising agency in the country, if not the world. With years of experience manipulating the masses, two of the best tricksters in the industry explain how you as a consumer are being duped, and how you are actually a part of the conspiracy to make you fat. But more importantly, they teach you how to break the cycle.

I smell spin. Their big “revelation” is decreasing portion size. Because we haven’t heard THAT before. They argue that if you eat whatever you want on a 9 inch plate for a year you will lose weight because you will cut your calories by 30%.

There is nothing wrong with this strategy of decreasing portion sizes, but this idea is nothing new. Researcher Brian Wansink discussed the benefits of using smaller plates based on his research in his Cornell food lab in his book Mindless Eating. Professor and dietitian, Lisa Young, provides practical advice and strategies for losing weight and eating healthy in her book The Portion Teller. (this book is one of my faves) Barbara Rolls’ book Volumetrics also focuses on portion size and calorie density of foods.

Not only are there hundreds of superior books out there written by real experts in food and nutrition, but the “ad guys” book seems to ignore the importance of exercise in getting healthy – a critical mistake health experts would not make. The reality is there is much more to weight management than smaller plates.

If you look closely at the review you will see what I see. These ad agency execs are basically telling you that you aren’t smart enough to recognize advertising… that you are being “fooled”… and they are going to expose what’s been up their sleeve. The real foolery lies in their hope that you will buy this book. Don’t let them call you victims of “conspiracy”. You know an ad when you see it. You aren’t easily “manipulated” (whuah whuah whuah).

You know, Ad Age is even questioning the motivation behind this book – is it real or a satire? I personally agree with a comment from one of Crispin’s ad competitors who suggests this is a backwards way of reinforcing “personal responsibility” to the masses to take the emphasis off of restaurants.

One senior agency executive at a rival shop said it’s just possible that this is Mr. Bogusky’s clever way to advance a sentiment that’s uttered only behind closed doors in the fast-food industry: that it is too often persecuted for the obesity crisis, when consumers’ lack of dietary discipline is the real culprit.

Either way, the motive behind this book is NOT to help you. These ad execs haven’t had a change of heart and suddenly care about public health. If you really want something helpful, check out any one of the other three books I mentioned above. You can also select from hundreds of books written by dietitians on nutrition, weight loss, sports, cooking, special diets, pregnancy, and age-specific books for children, teens, adults and seniors. If you want professional, personalized support find a dietitian in your area and see how they might be able to help you reach your health goals. I guarantee they will tell you more than “just go buy some new 9-inch plates”.

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5 Responses

  1. As registered dietitian and cookbook author, I am also surprised with the number of books that really don’t provide help for the consumer, even though that is what they stress in their marketing. in general the best books geared to help the consumer eat more healthfully are by dietitians, because this is their expertise. As a registered dietitian I saw clients with heart disease, diabetes or wanting to lose weight and that is how I got into the cookbook business – providing recipes and menus to help my clients. I welcome anyone to visit my website – http://www.QuickandHealthy.net -for recipes to try, menus and tips. Information on my cookbooks is also listed.

    Brenda J. Ponichtera, RD
    author of Quick & Healthy Recipes and Ideas,
    Quick & Healthy Volume II,
    and Quick & Healthy Low-fat Carb Conscious Cooking
    ScaleDown Publishing, Inc.
    1519 Hermits Way, The Dalles, OR 97058
    Phone: 541-296-5859 FAX: 541-296-1875
    http://www.QuickandHealthy.net

  2. Brenda,

    Thanks for sharing your link. The recipe and grocery list print out feature on your site is very cool.

    – Rebecca

  3. Great article and wonderful blog! Looks like we can still eat the fast food if we eat smaller amount – or so they are trying to tell us. So we can have our cake and eat it too :)

  4. Basically it appears that is what they are trying to say… Balance and moderation is a major message that I think sounds good in theory to most people… but what is the reality of people who eat fast food? I’m not really sure… how often do they eat it, do they meet the minimum exercise guidelines 30 mins to an hour every day, are they meeting fruit and vegetable recommendations, etc. etc.

    I think fast food is part of American culture to stay for what it is worth – unless consumers by and large refuse to eat it. Fast food is a business after all.

    My main goal in this post was bringing to light that ad execs have no business giving diet advice. They aren’t qualified. It is absurd that they use the marketing spin to drum up interest in the book talking about a “conspiracy” against the consumer they will “reveal” when it is their own tactics.

    Maybe dietitians should pitch their next ad campaign.

  5. [...] Rebecca Scritchfield asks why Crispin Porter execs have released a diet book. [...]

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