Marketing campaigns often hire the talents of sports or music celebrities because their enormous popularity will help to sell products. Kids idolize musicians, sports heroes, and movie stars and want to be just like them, and eat what they eat. But is what they are promoting not in the best interest of kids health and well-being?
A new study by NYU Langone Medical Center published in the journal Pediatrics shows there’s a significant relationship between childhood obesity and celebrity product endorsements.
“Because of [the US]’s childhood and teenage obesity public health crises, it is important to raise awareness about how companies are using celebrities popular with these audiences to market their unhealthy products,” explained Dr. Marie Bragg, a psychologist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “Research has already shown that food advertising leads to overeating and the food industry spends $1.8 billion per year marketing to youth alone.”
During the study, researchers studied YouTube views of celebrities’ food-related brand endorsements, and then compared that data to the nutritional value of the products they were endorsing. Those endorsements studied included Beyoncé promoting Pepsi, Snoop Dogg shilling Hot Pockets, and Justin Timberlake’s McDonald’s ads, among others.
The results showed that 81% of the products the researchers were studying that were tied to celebrity endorsements were what scientists consider ‘nutrient poor’ and often involved large amounts of added sugar. Further, none of the celebrity endorsed products studied included fruits, vegetables, or whole grains – all essential parts of a healthy diet.
“Companies are very much aware of the ROI [return on investment] their investment in celebrities provide thus continue paying these fees as they know that attaching a popular celebrity's name to their product will make it more immune to awareness of its poor nutrient content value,” says marketing expert Huma Gruaz. "‘If Beyoncé is endorsing this product and looks healthy and beautiful, it must be good for you’ is the kind of brain wiring and programming these companies are trying to create - Only a few of us realize that Beyoncé is probably surrounded by chefs and nutritional experts which makes her endorsement of such products an absolutely farce. It is disheartening that major celebrities such as Beyoncé do not see the impact they have on the health of millions by endorsing these products that are simply terrible for your health. When you have power and influence you also have a major responsibility towards your fans - or public in general - as anything you endorse will impact the lives of millions,” says Gruaz. It is all about making the right choices.
Now would be a great time for Taylor Swift to start promoting almond milk or avocados.