I rarely invest energy in analyzing food marketing so this post may be a result of watching too much Hulu and the repetitive advertising loop that comes with it. A recent Lays commercial goes beyond the typical cliché of women sensuously eating unhealthy snack food and really struck a nerve. And not in the Chapstick sense which is one giant generalization based off a chauvinistic stereotype*, but in a dim-witted uncreative way that leaves viewers feeling… sad.
Think about this in non TV-land and try to extract the cheerful musical accompaniment. A young, attractive made-up woman begins the night preparing for a low-key house-warming, which we know based off the information provided in her generic mock-Facebook update and the presence of 3 wine glasses on the table. Mystery Facebook friend inquires about the pending social gathering but before she can answer her world is flipped upside down. With one scintillating bite, she is overcome by the self-indulgence of this nutrient deprived snack and allows the chip’s greasy influence to wash over her and completely rewrite the night’s agenda. She didn’t stand a chance against that chip – perhaps with that one bite she is instantly taken back to her joyful adolescence before her mother sent her away to fitness camp and banished all snack goods once and for all. Perhaps she is reeling from a recent breakup and while the intention was to get back out in the field that one bite awards her one more night of self-pity and indulgence before making the leap back into the social scene. Whatever misguided scenario Lays used in their brainstorm, the message is clear that this girl is IN control, independent, and DAMNIT, fictional over-bearing mom, she is perfectly capable of making healthy food choices for herself – WILL YOU BACK OFF?!
What is Lays trying to do here? Connect with a demographic they feel they’ve neglected? Try to show single women everywhere that’s it’s perfectly acceptable to forego actual social interaction in lieu of Facebook, chips and mystery dip? Nothing pairs better with a full-bodied red than a salt lick and unrefrigerated cream paste in a jar.
This is not my attempt to snack-shame anyone. There are many healthy food advertisements that are guilty of this same thing. With that, I leave you with ‘Women Laughing Alone With Salad.”
*This stereotype happens to be a very accurate representation of myself, so I was not offended in the slightest.