Snackify: how advertising conditioned us to snack.

A study by Yale university showed that children, aged 7-11, watching cartoons with food ads ate 45 per cent more snack food than children watching the same show with non-food related ads.

Errr, doh, so advertising works.

Of course it works; these super smart food and drink corporations would not spend £300bn a year on advertising unless it works – actually they analyse vast quantities of rich data to exactly understand what works on different people. Great advertising is designed to quietly influence people, to go consciously unnoticed, that’s why 62% of people think advertising doesn’t affect their purchase decisions.

Here’s a few examples to illustrate how advertising has quietly conditioned us to snack.

1. Harry the spider

A classic, do you remember Harry the Spider? Its his coming out party, this pivotal advert was one of the first to convince us that tasty snacks like Cadbury’s Fingers should be enjoyed every day. The ad plays brilliantly to a mum of the 70's raised during rationing when chocolate truly was a treat for a special occasion.

2. A Mars a day

Mars taught us that the intense sugar rush of a chocolate bar would help to perform better at work, rest and play, an idea which continues through countless adds such as the Milky Bar cowboy and Red Bull wings all of which gave us superpower.

3. A finger of fudge

Of course, what mum wouldn’t be concerned so advertising gave us a Finger of Fudge, as it was just enough to give your kids a treat and Milky Way, the sweet you can eat between meals without spoiling your appetite. Such assurance messages for mum are laced throughout snack advertising aimed at kids - look out for full of vitamin D, packed with calcium for healthy bones or one of your five a day as ways to distract mum away from the high sugar content.

4. Yorkie - that chunky bar

A big chunky change happened with the Yorkie advert of the 1970’s. Hot on the heels of the hugely successfully introduction of supersize meals into McDonalds Yorkie showed that people wanted bigger bars.

5. Galaxy - made for sharing?

Since then chocolate bars have grown through to king size, then duo (because we all share, right?) and through to 100g bars becoming the most popular size. The whole "our bars are getting smaller" is perfectly engineered PR to outrageous us into buying those bigger bars,

This Galaxy advert shows skinny icon Audrey Hepburn making clear that the massive 114g bar is hers all hers and not for sharing.

6. Walkers - come on Gary pass it

Likewise sporting hero Gary Lineker, never really know for passing, and in this ad won’t even share his 120g sack of crisps with his own kids when they visit him in hospital.

7. Snickers - stress eating

A great example of how advertising associates products with emotions and experiences, in this ad Joan Collins teaches us that the best way to deal with stress- have a Snickers.

8. Asda - even supermum

Finally this one. It just disappoints me. Watch it and then read on.

Super mum, through dedication, hard graft and utter brilliance she delivers a magical Christmas. We love her, and we almost love this advert for a positive portrayal of a great modern mum. But hold on, rewind, play, and pause at 27 seconds. They couldn't resist, even super mum pigs out on a full box on premium chocolate biscuits.

This is exactly the subtle, everyday normalisation of snacking that's making over 60% of UK adults overweight.

Also in this series:

Snack Attack: how snacking is making us fat

Snack Smart: bitesize tips for healthier snacking


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