On a recent drive home, my jaw literally dropped in astonishment when I saw the billboard out of my left driver’s side window. I almost drove off the road in my attempt to ascertain that the words written in ten-foot font were actually there. The text read:
The billboard that almost caused my major motor vehicle accident was for baby carrots, as part of a new $25-million dollar ad campaign that many are calling “hip.” As reported by the Associated Press, the CEO of a major carrot producer, Jeff Dunn, stated, “This campaign is about turning baby carrots into a brand.”
Reportedly, over 50 producers have put all their carrots in one basket, hoping that that the agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky will take their product to a new level – that of junk food. Dunn reported on USAToday.com, “It takes a page out of junk food’s playbook and applies it to baby carrots.”
Okay, okay. Breathe.
So baby carrots want to be cool and “extreme”? Alright. Baby carrots want to play on our societal obsession with sugar-laden substances and advertise by saying things like, “Eat ‘em like junk food,”? Got it. So the website, www.babycarrots.com, features grungy music with a “crunch-powered” video game where your rocket power is fueled by… carrots? Okay. So television spots are set to come out featuring sexualized women lusting over carrots? We’re testing my patience now.
While I can certainly appreciate any effort made to inspire youth to eat healthier, instructing them to BINGE? This is where I draw the line.
Once again, we seem to be missing the point. Whether you binge on Doritos, Oreos, or tofu, binging, which involves a short period of excessive consumption, is unhealthy. Just as becoming obsessed with healthy eating doesn’t result in true nourishment, neither does packing in the carrots, baby or otherwise.
Now, I realize that this billboard, like the others in the series (another says “Our crunch can beat up your crunch.” Violence? Hello!) are meant to be attention-grabbing, light-hearted, and targeted toward youth. However, dismissing our cultural disease of excess and attenuating the seriousness of binge eating is downright dangerous.
Our society did not develop an obesity epidemic simply by eating Doritos. We developed it by using food – all food, carrots included – in a way that does not respect our bodies. We fail to eat mindfully and we do eat not based on the signals of our bodies. Instead, we eat in a state of automaticity. We binge.
If baby carrot producers want to do something really extreme, they can start by breaking away from the junk food category and promoting a way of life that is balanced and respectful of our bodies.
What are your thoughts and reactions to hearing about this ad campaign?