Junk Food Marketing To Kids

What is a Khanewali Cheez?

The Kurkure Tedha hai par mera hai ad campaign has recently released a new ad, one that I take strict objection to. You must have seen it.

 

It shows a man (Kunal Kapoor) sitting with a noticeably spurious looking packet of chips, with the words, Rs 5, but no brand name, emblazoned on the pack. When his wife asks him what he is eating, he indicates with a shrug that it is not worth talking about. She then offers him a phone, saying the signal is weak, but the phone itself will be crunchy. The sister-in-law offers him some wheat grass, adding that it is very fresh. He asks them if it is a khanewali cheez (read: something worth eating). The wife reiterates that if he is spending Rs 5, it had better be on a khanewali cheez. She proceeds to offer him a Rs 5-priced packet of Kurkure. He pulls the first chip out, and is completely blown away, energized at the sheer goodness of Kurkure compared to the supposedly non-edible non-branded packet of chips he was earlier eating.

There are some subliminal messages being spread here. An attempt is being made to sneak in chips, correction Kurkure, into the food pyramid, to imbue an empty calorie-filled snack with connotations of health and goodness.

Had they tried to extol the virtues of Kurkure in the fun department, had they tried to make it look like a great thing to take along on a picnic or a day at the beach, I would have had no objection, provided the khanewalas (eaters) in question remembered to dispose of the empty pack in the nearest bin. But this is going too far.

Everyone knows how highly addictive chips are. A rival brand even has the well-known tagline, No one can eat just one.

Given the fact that they are so addictive and unhealthy to boot, I find the new campaign very disturbing indeed. Because what the company is trying to do is to get consumers to shed whatever guilt, if at all, they feel about eating these chips. In describing chips as khanewali cheez, the company is trying to, in a way, legitimise the consumption of chips, and make us, as conscientious parents, feel good about buying them and giving them to our kids and eating them ourselves.

According to them, not only is Kurkure a khanewali cheez, it is also, in a world of soaring prices and rising inflation, available for only Rs 5, making it affordable and accessible.

These are disturbing trends, given the fact that children as young as 8 and 10 years old are now suffering from cholesterol and obesity issues. Not only are we encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle upon our kids, who are in any case not expending too much energy on the playground (what playground?), we are also exposing them to an unhealthy future.

Better let them know now that the packet of chips, whether Kurkure or Lays or any of the other brands, are not khanewali cheez.

Far from it.

Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar loves being mamma to 4-year-old La Niña and 18-month-old El Niño. A working mother, she enjoys writing short stories and poems and looks forward to being published someday. She blogs at http://cynthology.blogspot.in and tweets @Cynth_Rodrigues.

  • “:Had they tried to extol the virtues of Kurkure in the fun department, had they tried to make it look like a great thing to take along on a picnic or a day at the beach, I would have had no objection, ” – I’m with you on this. I agree, there’s too much out there that our children (and we) do not deserve to eat. More importantly everyone needs to know that advertising is deceptive. But then, like they say – as long as there are people who are ready to be deceived, the deceivers are here to stay.
    I admire your honest post!

  • My list of issues with the marketers is quite long. I too wrote about it here: http://www.parentous.com/2013/06/12/open-letter-to-the-advertisers-impact-of-advertising-on-children/
    Products which are aimed at kids are full of words like ‘healthy’, ‘nutrition’, ‘wise choice’ etc in it. There is this Bournvita ad with Kajol, which I overheard “samajhdar moms chunti hain Bournvita Li’l champs…” (sensible mothers choose Bournvita Lil Champs). Now, it seems I am not going to be that wise. I don’t want to give my child Bournvita. Thank you very much 🙂

  • All the ads are trying to catch kids, so that when they grow up they continue to be addicted to the products. What a way to get consumers for life 🙁 🙁

    I wish we had some solution for the same….