Every week here on LAMPpost, we will be featuring one video from the LAMPlatoon arsenal of broken commercials. For our first feature, we turn our attention to a broken commercial for General Mills’s “Big G” cereals. Check it out:
Cereal advertising has been shown to be particularly misleading. According to Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the least healthy cereals are among the ones which are most advertised to kids–as it happens, all four of the “Big G” cereals included in this commercial also rank within the top five most advertised cereals. (The only one of the top five most advertised cereals not included in this commercial is Honey Nut Cheerios. In 2009, the FDA issued a warning label to General Mills over misleading health claims made regarding Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat cereal, but no letter has been issued specifically regarding claims for the Honey Nut line, which lists sugar as its top ingredient after whole grains and also claims it can help lower cholesterol. However, sugar also leads to heart disease.)
Cereal advertisements, like advertisements for many other foods, also frequently tout health claims without offering a larger picture. That’s left to the consumer to investigate, but many don’t. Let’s take the whole grain claim as an example. First, while General Mills does a good job of stating that whole grains are important–which they are–there is nothing added about why whole grains are such a big deal in the first place. (They can help lower the risk of some diseases.) Second, the health benefits of whole grain foods are derived from their high fiber content, which is generally defined as 2.5 grams per serving. But, whole grains are not necessarily high in fiber. As an example, let’s look at the cereals in the “Big G” line. Trix has 1.1 grams of dietary fiber, Cocoa Puffs has 1.4 grams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch has 1.2 grams and Lucky Charms tops the group with a whopping 1.6. And, as the broken commercial indicates, the high sugar content of cereals claiming to be good for your heart is another issue. In the end, the “Big G” cereals don’t really offer any significant benefits.
Researching marketing claims may seem like a lot of work, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. Any time a processed food product markets itself as a “super food,” that should trigger your media literacy flag. Don’t accept the claim as fact until you’ve looked into it more closely.
Making a LAMPlatoon video is another great way for you to take apart an advertising message and get to the bottom of what’s really happening in that mere 30-second commercial. Visit LAMPlatoon’s video portal today to see more videos made by LAMPlatoon members, and email us today to join the critical mass!