How aware are you of error and bias?
In the 1870’s Erich von Wolf, a German Chemist, was researching the nutritional benefits of spinach.
With inaccuracy uncharacteristic of a German researcher, Von Wolf concluded his findings, noting that spinach contained 35mg of iron per 100g of spinach leaves, rather than the correct 3.5gms.
This minor detail didn’t go unnoticed by EC Segar and the studio behind Popeye, leading them to chose spinach as the super food behind the cartoon-hero’s strength.
That association with the comic and cartoon saw sales of spinach rise by 33% in the1930s and it was only some 80 years later that the mistake was publically acknowledged.
Error and bias is commonplace, not just in marketing communications but pretty much everywhere.
Spinach is not the only “food group” to have benefited from the strategic misplacement of a metaphorical decimal point.
Consider the good work in times gone by from the Milk Marketing board – the “Got Milk” campaign featuring David Beckham or the famous “Accrington Stanley” TV Commercial.
The Meat and Livestock Commission may have also delivered some less memorable advertising campaigns but what they have in common is that they are advertising messages – not educational and authoritative pieces supported by any Health Authority.
Just plain old manipulative advertising riddled with error and bias.
The truth of anything is always at a deeper layer than the surface yet it only takes a little digging to work out the harm offered by excessive consumption of diary and meat products.
Drinking cows milk just isn’t good for you.
Go read The China Study or sit down to any of the myriad documentaries on food production, animal welfare or the environment(Fork over Knives, Cowspiracy, What The Health…)
No matter what your view is on anything, you always need to dig a little deeper.
With that in mind it is refreshing to see someone challenge the status quo – this billboard on the Ormeau Road this morning.
Simple. Honest. Controversial. Thought-provoking. True.
Contaminated with error and bias no doubt but that’s where the Advertising Standards Authority come in, right?
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) lays down the for advertisers, agencies and media owners to follow in placing advertisements in newspapers, magazines, brochures, leaflets and posters etc…
If advertising campaigns for meat and milk can get posted without question, then what else can?
Shift Control is a business growth consultancy based in Belfast and specialising in marketing communications, brand strategy and sales training.
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