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Going “Real”: Advertisers find benefit in appearing natural December 26, 2009

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There has been significant anxiety in recent years about the typical American diet. As John Gennaro wrote in HealthNewsDigest.com back in April 2009, many Americans have three choices when eating: 1) They can look to fast food, which is heavily processed and though inexpensive often leads to obesity and other health problems; 2) They can resort to low-fat, healthy-living diets which sacrifice taste, cost too much, and often lead to people quitting their diets; 3) Best of all, Gennaro argues, Americans can simply resort once again to eating the “real food” that sustained people for many years (like steak, potatoes, and vegetables).

“Real” food, like other “real” products being pitched these days, is on the rise, according to Advertising Age‘s Emily York. Originating in the 1980s, “real food” campaigns target people who are increasingly conscientious about what’s in their meal. Apparently, using “real” to describe a product conveys that it is natural, not “processed,” and sometimes even “homemade.” In short, “real” appears to be the new God term in marketing.

To see how one company has emphasized the real-ness of its product in recent years, watch the following advertisements for Hellman’s Mayonnaise from two different decades:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What has made Americans so anxious about their food in recent years?

2.  Does calling something “real” always have power in marketing?  When does it not work?

3.  How does the second Hellman’s commercial (above) reflect our modern anxiety about what is in our food?

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