I am increasingly convinced that advertising is subject to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – it is possible, I am sure, only to know the current state of an advertising campaign or the direction in which it is moving, not both simultaneously.
For instance, who, seeing the bizarre predilection for inserting half-hearted and half-baked raps into all television adverts in the early 1990s, could have predicted the fey and shiny corporate glossiness of modern advertising, its scions replete with gel-encrusted ‘fin’ haircuts and zip-up hoodies bearing the legend “CCCP”, annoyingly pronounced – annoying, that is, to Slavonophones – as “Cee Cee Cee Pee”? Who, seeing the use of the commercial ‘at’ symbol to mean ‘a’ – and would advertisers please stop doing that, as ‘[email protected] [email protected]’ reads ‘sattle deattle’ – would have predicted the current trend for IrritatingLYMiXedCase?
More egregious than any of these excesses, however, is the dillantette attitude of fast-food restauranteurs McDonalds, who have recently developed the habit of grouping various items under the banner of a healthy choice.
Not satisfied with single-handedly saving the environment, Sir Ronald McDonald, the jolly-faced makeup-plastered burger-loving hard-nosed fast food executive, has embraced paternalism in its egregious prescriptionary form and elected to dictate the components of a balanced diet. Yes, that’s right. McDonalds are part of the war on obesity. Eat your heart out, Jamie Oliver. Although presumably as part of a balanced diet.
Witness, for instance, their gloried website ‘Super Size Me – The Debate’. The scrolling text at the bottom declares the achievements of Big Brother Ronnie – 33% less salt! 10% less fat! Victory on the Malabar front! Increased production of milk! Mine’s a pint! Close cover before striking! The balanced diet of Anita Bean shows a carefully worked-out way in which you will never have to eat anything which doesn’t come from McDonalds ever again. This does of course entail having a Garden Side Salad every single day and subsisting largely on apples, but things could be worse. You could be locked in a cupboard and force-fed gruel.
The subjectively named ‘tasty savoury sauce’ shall greet all who embrace the noun-free compound noun Big Tasty.
Ah, but this dietary splendour is not the sole extent of McDonalds’ strange new world of advertising. No. They have cast aside the gerund-infested “I’m lovin’ it” and have decided to embrace self-parody, with the truly Orwellian slogan “it’s what I eat and what I do.” There is nought in life but McDonalds. It is what I eat. It is what I do. It is all I see. It is my comforter and guide, it restores my soul and leads me to fantastic white chicken breast all-natural wholesome, tender, succulent Chicken McNuggets.
A glance at the menu will show the old favourites (“100% beef”) augmented with the kind of language not seen since the 1950s. The subjectively named “tasty savoury sauce” shall greet all who embrace the noun-free compound noun Big Tasty – the Big Tasty which includes “three cheese slices made with Emmental.” Made with Emmental? As opposed to actually being Emmental? More peculiarly, McDonalds assert that their menu is “based on staple foods such as meat, fish, potatoes, eggs, milk and grain.” Surely this, barring the strangely absent categories of fruit and vegetables, is in fact a definition of food. What else did we expect them to cook with? Iodine? Dark matter? Nuts aren’t mentioned in that list. Should we be reassured that at no time do McDonalds cook with almonds? The cheese in the cheeseburger doesn’t contain rennet. What on earth for? Why would anyone bothered about rennet buy a cheeseburger?
Eh? Enjoy your food? What kind of guideline to healthy eating is this? Does food become more nutritious when enjoyed than when consumed while miserable?
McDonalds does, however, bring an interesting insight into government thinking. Amongst its Chris-Morris-esque ramblings, McDonalds informs us of the government guidelines for a healthy diet. Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre – fine, yes, I see that. A constipated citizenry is an unhappy citizenry. Eat a variety of different foods. Although this is rather at loggerheads with Mac’s suggestion that we cram ourselves with Garden Side Salads, I can condone that suggestion too. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Hm, yes. Although this doesn’t really work with McDonalds either. If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly. Fine, although this government guideline is another that doesn’t apply to McDonalds. I have never quite understood, by the way, the recent obsession with instructing people to drink sensibly. Sensibly? Does this mean, I have wondered, embracing Aristotle’s idea of the Golden Mean whilst drinking? Or does it mean not writing parodies of the works of William Burroughs? Either way, we shall disregard this guideline. No, the one I find interesting, really very interesting, is this: “enjoy your food.”
Eh? Enjoy your food? What kind of guideline to healthy eating is this? Does food become more nutritious when enjoyed than when consumed while miserable? And is the government prepared to enforce it? If I fail to enjoy my manky stale-bread peanut butter sandwich constructed because I’ve forgotten to buy food again, will the government take action? Will Patricia Hewitt or Margaret Beckett or whoever does these things these days prod me for failing to enjoy my food?
And since we are asking questions, I shall finish on one: what kind of name is Morgan Spurlock anyway?