Campbell’s Core Values: A Force for Diversity or Deception?

Recently, Campbell’s soup released a series of ads promoting a new brand integration between Disney and the soup company, in the form of “Star Wars” Soups. In the spirit of highlighting the companies purported commitment to “real life,” and diversity, two ads highlight a young English language learner and his apparently Spanish speaking mom trying to find “Arturito” (R2-D2) soup in a grocery store, and two gay dads, alternatively telling their toddler, “Cooper, I am Your Father.”

Apparently, One Million Moms, the media watch group arm of the American Family Association has called out Campbell’s for featuring two dads feeding their son, thereby, “glorifying an unnatural marriage” and promoting a LGBTQ agenda. Other groups have found the ad about a young child and his mom inherently racist and demeaning to immigrants and to Spanish speaking populations.

Suffice it to say that while I do not count myself among the 1 Million Moms and disagree vehemently with their message and find the “Arturito” ad offensive, I have to ask myself why no one is raising an eyebrow about the persistent and pervasive attempts to market highly processed and nutritionally bankrupt foods to young children. Despite years of advocacy efforts to stem the tide, food companies consistently thwart efforts to limit direct advertising to young children. It is a well-documented fact that children under the age of eight are unable to distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality. Thus, the “Star Wars” promotion is essentially interpreted a “real” directive from the characters in the film to consume this product.

What is Campbell’s offering us in these “real” soups? A breakdown of the nutritional components for 1 cup* of soup indicates 960 mg of sodium, which puts it dangerously close to the 1500 mg per day limit recommended by the American Heart Association. Exposing children to foods with such high salt content at a young age primes their palate with the expectation of and desire for excessive salty food. Excess consumption of salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is directly linked to adult heart disease and decreased life expectancy. This “real” soup also contains 26 ingredients — most of them nutrient additives (like ferrous sulfate or thiamine mononitrate) — that are added to highly refined and processed food to give a false sense of nutrient value, can inhibit nutrient absorption, and may be derived from petroleum and processed with toxic chemicals. This is not the food we should be feeding to young Jedi’s in training to be young adults.

I’m glad that Campbell’s is acknowledging that media on our society should reflect all different kinds of families; progress to be celebrated, for sure. If only certain segments of our society would spend less time pontificating about family values, the sanctity of male/female marriage, and disparaging our immigrant population and focus more consumer attention on how big food companies are tearing apart the real fabric of our country — namely the health and well-being of our children and the planet — that would be a force to be reckoned with.

*Campbell’s nutrition tables provide information for ½ cup of soup (another example of misleading marketing information). Unless you are feeding soup to a small, furry pet, no one consumes a half-cup of soup. Thus, I reported the amount of sodium in one-cup of soup.


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