WIN Wyoming

Thought Bullets
October 2004 

Food advertising dollars – Do they influence consumer behavior?

I can still remember the first time I viewed Jean Kilbourne’s video called Killing Us Softly. Jean began the video by asking her audience to do something no one had probably asked them to do before; and that was to take advertising seriously. In all her videos and books, Jean has done a masterful job of demonstrating the power of advertising in shaping thoughts and behaviors of people who continually insist they are not influenced by advertising. With Jean Kilbourne’s assertion that advertising is a powerful force on human thoughts and behaviors, consider this: The nutrition promotion budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) soon-to-be released revised food guide pyramid is $1.8 million. In 2002, the beer industry spent more than $1 billion on advertising, and during the same year, about $240 million was spent advertising chewing gum.

Kilbourne J. Killing Us Softly (video), Cambridge Documentary Films, 1979.

TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Survey of restaurant advertising, 2003.

TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Analysis of advertising spending by the food industry, 2002.

Martin A. Critics: Obesity fight starved for cash, U.S. relying on media generosity to promote goals. Chicago Tribune, March 14, 2004.

Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD

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