Why Every Cheeseburger Ad Is Also An Ad for Twinkies
A new study published in Health Psychology by Jennifer Harris, John Bargh and Kelly Brownell of Yale says in so many words that whether we realize it or not every food ad we see on television (or in any other medium) is actually an ad for whatever food we have in the pantry at the moment:
“Children consumed 45% more when exposed to food advertising. Adults consumed more of both healthy and unhealthy snack foods following exposure to snack food advertising compared to the other conditions. In both experiments, food advertising increased consumption of products not in the presented advertisements, and these effects were not related to reported hunger or other conscious influences.”
What’s interesting about this is that the basic idea of food appears to be stronger than any specific suggestion made by advertising. The authors conclude:
“These experiments demonstrate the power of food advertising to prime automatic eating behaviors and thus influence far more than brand preference alone.”
In other words, much as we want our ads to be rifles, they are shotguns. Let those who claim otherwise be condemned to eat nothing but Milk Duds for all eternity.