Last week, Fox News published the Hungry Girl’s guide to outsmarting Valentine’s Day overeating. It’s dedicated to recipes options that won’t “ruin your budget, waistline, or the mood”.
Valentine’s Day aside, the majority of religious and civic holidays have become synonymous with overeating. The national Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders even describes over-eating around the holidays and on special occasions as a “normalized” part of American behavior.
All you have to do is google “holiday overeating” and you’ll find hundreds of articles describing tips to avoiding binge eating and over indulgence – as well as one that includes five ways to avoid a post-holiday heart attack. But this got me thinking – are the holidays the issue? Or, are we causing the problem?
Let’s talk about food-specific holidays. According to The Nibble, a magazine dedicated to specialty foods, there is a food dedicated to just about every day of the year.
Here’s a taste of your food holiday options:
- January 19: National Popcorn Day
- February 28: National Chocolate Soufflé Day. Ironically, this coincides with American Heart Month, which is sponsored by the American Heart Association.
- March 5: National Cheese Doodle Day
- June 12: National Peanut Butter Cookie Day
- September 17: Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day – dedicated to Irish whiskey or coffee. Yes, this is real.
- October 18: National Chocolate Cupcake Day
This is only a few – and doesn’t include my personal favorite: National Pigs-In-A-Blanket Day (April 24, for anyone curious).
These days aren’t just randomly assigned. They’re designed by people and organizations to drive behavior change. Petitions for events are introduced by citizens, trade associations or public relations firms, and authorized by various levels of government. Once it’s official, it comes back to the petitioner to promote the “holiday”. That’s when you start to see recipes for chocolate soufflé popping up during the morning news shows and lifestyle blogs.
People make decisions based on emotional responses – that’s why we’re so quick to participate (and overeat) during days that celebrate comfort foods. With that in mind, there has to be a certain level of responsibility taken when a brand dedicates a day to chocolate soufflé, during the same month that another major organization has already dedicated to discussing community heart health. Keep in mind that the average chocolate soufflé has about 600 calories, and is made of mostly butter and sugar.
It’s a conflict of interest, and just a small part of a much bigger, national conversation about healthy eating habits.
I’m sure there’s not a brand out there that wants to be associated with overeating, but without taking a step back to look at the broader implications, we’ll end up celebrating every unhealthy habit out there.
It’s kind of like when Planet Fitness has a free pizza night once a month. It may temporarily appeal to the consumer – but it seems like it’s missing the point for a health club franchise.
Take a moment to think about the things that you do want your brand to be associated with. Corporate identity has a significant impact on the way that consumers respond to a brand, and it’s a simple way to define your impact on the community. A strong brand knows exactly who they are and who they want to be.
Here’s where I’ll open it up to you. Where’s the balance? How can we, as communications professionals, help our clients come to socially-responsible results – even if it’s not at the top of their minds?
PS. While we’re on the subject, don’t forget about National “Take Your Houseplant for a Walk Day” coming up in July.