Posted by Linda Bonvie
November 6, 2014
While political commercials will no longer be filling the airwaves (for a while, anyway), there is a “people’s choice” spot that you may well be seeing more of in the coming days.
It’s a commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios – one that uses a cute little animated “stage show” to make the point that the product contains “No High Fructose Corn Syrup.” And in its own way, it may be even more significant than those ads for and against candidates that were so plentiful prior to Election Day.
What’s so important about this particular spot? Well, given how much money and effort goes into the making and airing of a TV commercial – especially one shown in multiple markets – it represents a direct contradiction by a major food company (General Mills) of the Corn Refiners Association’s contention that most American consumers simply don’t care whether or not the products they eat contain HFCS.
In fact, the lobbying group again made that assertion in a piece posted on its CornNaturally.com web site just this morning under the headline “Consumer behavior is driving ingredient choices.” After noting how the research firm Mintel had “recently analyzed its Global New Products Database to further understand the landscape of consumer perceptions, consumer purchase behavior and how manufacturers react to each,” it maintained that “no result is more telling than how consumers have reacted to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Bottom line? They’re not very concerned. And the industry has noticed.”
That claim is part of a last-ditch pitch by the CRA to keep this cheap laboratory sweetener, which has been linked by various studies to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and other health problems, in as many products as possible. If consumers don’t care, its reasoning goes, why should food manufacturers bother removing it?
But this commercial is further proof (as if any were needed) that the industry has indeed noticed how increasing number of consumers are shunning products containing HFCS – in this case by turning its absence into the chief selling point and benefit of Honey Nut Cheerios.
In a sense, the “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” sign that “comes together” in this particular commercial is very much a sign of the times – and for the CRA, a sort of handwriting on the wall that their undesirable (and undesired) sweetener is actually on its way out of the food supply.
And in a larger sense, the commercial represents a trend in food advertising that emphasizes the removal of not just HFCS, but a whole category of additives that have been contributing to the major health problems of Americans. Another example of this phenomenon is the “no trans fats” claims now carried by an increasing number of products from which artery-clogging partially hydrogenated oils have been removed.
That’s why it’s so important for you to make your sentiments about such insidious ingredients known to the manufacturers in whatever way you can – through social media, by contacting companies directly and of course, through your purchasing power. (For a complete list of the worst offenders, see our “ten top additives to avoid”).
Remember – when you watch a commercial such as the Honey Nut Cheerios’ “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” spot, what you’re seeing is an indication that the makers of these products are watching and listening very carefully to you. And while it might seem like just a cute little ad, what it signifies is that they’re taking what you want — and don’t want — in the products you consume very, very seriously.
And that’s really, really good news for all of us who want to keep our families healthy.