A recent study talked about the dangers of celebrities endorsing junk food and it got us thinking – why do these celebrities endorse these products that they know aren’t good for people and more than that, why endorse products that you yourself don’t eat or drink?
America has the largest number of obese people and each day, there are more and more kids growing up without a proper diet. A while ago, we talked about the difference between fast food, junk food and street food and laid out the reasons why one is easier than the other. Junk food brands usually give you a meal with a drink and all of this can be supersized – which is just as bad as it being regular sized. Junk food is filled with unhealthy ingredients and fatty foods, which fills the stomach, but is unhealthy. The reason it does so well? it’s cheap.
“One reason any campaign wants a popular celebrity spokesperson is because kids are attracted to them no matter what they are doing. Kids look up to them, and they want to be like them. We can’t expect kids to turn off that admiration when the same person is selling sugar. At best, kids might be confused. At worst, they’ll think the messages about soda are the same as the messages about water, and those two beverages aren’t the same,” Andrew Cheyne, a researcher at the Berkeley Media Studies Group, told TIME in an article from 2013.
So, why do celebrities get on board?
The blunt way to answer that question is to just say that they get paid a lot of money to do it. According to Science Alert, Beyonce’s deal with Pepsi is estimated to be worth $50 million and Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Lovin’ It” contract with McDonald’s is said to be worth $6 million. While this might be pocket change to some, it is still a lot of money coming in on a regular basis. They may not promote the products they are endorsing, but when in public, they are very often ‘seen’ with these products in hand or somewhere close enough that if a fan was to take a closer look, they’d see the branding.
Why do brands want celebrities?
What better way to sell your product to the youth of today than by putting the product in the hands of someone they love. Beyonce is a favourite all the time, ask her to hold a can of Pepsi on stage or in a photoshoot and instantly every Beyonce fan in the world is doing the same thing. It’s not some big mind-control trick, it’s just the way the world works. Give the public what they want and they will support you through and through.
They do just fine even without the support of the celebrities, but slap on Virat Kohli’s face or Ranbir Kapoor’s smile on a can of Pepsi and the crowds go wild. It’s a great marketing strategy, it’s been going on for years. And while maybe 50 years ago things were different, the youth of today want more. They are easily distracted, they can jump from one thing to the next without even a single pause and the only way to grab their attention is to use their favourite celebrity or athlete to make them stop what they’re doing and smell the roses, as it were.
And that’s not all…
Singers and actors are not the only ones to promote and ‘support’ these unhealthy food brands. You’ve even got the best athletes in the world hopping on the junk food train. What makes it a little weird is that these are athletes who talk about staying healthy and following a very specific exercise regimen, but in the same breath, they talk about drinking Red Bull or Gatorade or Pepsi or eating Lays and Burger King.
Most people don’t even think about it, but sports drinks are high in sugar and calories, which is great if you work out regularly and have a strict exercise routine. Otherwise, you’re just adding to the sugar and calories you’re already consuming and making everything so much worse. According to an article in TIME magazine from 2013, “of the 46 beverages endorsed by professional athletes, 93% relied exclusively on sugar for all of their calories.” While this number might be about international athletes, the Indian ones aren’t doing any better. Pepsi was the main sponsor for IPL at one point even and not only do they have a variety of beverages under their umbrella, they’ve also got packaged potato chips which is just as bad.
We can’t stop the brands from bringing on celebrity endorsements, but we can stop falling for it. It’s not an easy process and it’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s important to remember that just because your favourite supports a brand, doesn’t make it good.