Food, morality and advertising.
Mary Eberstadt wrote a fascinating piece for Policy Review called “Is Food the New Sex?” The central idea is choosing the foods we eat now has a moral aspect, something that used to be true (though it isn’t anymore) of sex. It’s pretty interesting stuff for anyone who has ever worked on a food account. You can see how this idea comes into play in the somewhat baffling work that Goodby Silverstein is doing for Cheetos. Basically, the agency is reaching–and reaching pretty hard–to try to figure out a way to sell a product to adults that has always been targeted at young children. What caused this strategic shift is that it is no longer “acceptable” in American society to sell snack food with relatively little nutritional value to children. But there’s a lot of equity in Cheetos, and Frito-Lay certainly isn’t going to walk away from it. Hence, the assignment for the agency became “find a way to sell those things that turn your fingers orange to young hipsters.” I wish them nothing but the best of luck.