Sunday, March 13, 2011

Celebrities: Stop Hawking Crap

At the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, celebrity chefs Art Smith and Spike Mendolsohn made a request of other celebrities, specifically those in the acting and athletic fields. They suggested that celebrities should harness their influence to encourage people to eat healthily. Art Smith was quoted as saying: "I want to see these amazing sports people say, 'Hey, the reason I look like this is because I eat this,'" he said. "We are so star struck that if these people with power would say, 'I feel great because this is part of my regimen,' people will buy into that."


However, before we make that request, let's ask them to take this interim step: Stop hawking the crap.

Celebrities, especially athletes and sports associations routinely accept money from fast food companies, beverage companies, and other food manufacturers.

Take, for example, McDonald's, which is the official restaurant ("restaurant official") of the Olympics. The Olympic relationship began in 1968 when McDonald's airlifted hamburgers to athletes competing in Grenoble, France. In 1976, McDonald's became an Official Sponsor of the Olympic Games. From 1988 to 1994, McDonald's was the sponsor in several countries around the world of National Olympic Committees. McDonald's provides food service for athletes around the world at the Summer and Winter Games.

In 2009, Taco Bell signed a multi-year agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to be its official quick service restaurant.

Coca-Cola Company is one of the longest standing corporate partners of FIFA, the International governing body of soccer (or if you're the rest of the world - football). Coca-Cola has had stadium advertising at every FIFA World Cup since 1950 and has extended its sponsorship of the event until 2022.

Individual celebrities are not innocent in this game. Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have lent their celebrity aura to the golden arches. NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon has raced his car under a Pepsi paint scheme. Missy Elliot helped Doritos launch a new flavor. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Baseball is about to resume. As a season ticket holding White Sox fan, I love the game. I do not, however, enjoy the highly commercialized atmosphere of the stadium. While the Cell (as new Comiskey has come to be known) has relatively good food options, including steamed Chinese buns from Wow Bao, it also also offers a constant bombardment of crap and advertisements for crap. My least favorite ad was a series of interviews with White Sox players extolling the virtues of the Happy Meal. Given that I've met the nutritionist who's worked with many of the players, I highly doubt that these guys are eating McDonald's on any regular basis given the economic worth of their physique.

So yes, it would be terrific for athletes and Hollywood celebrities to explain how they eat to remain the peak condition, I submit, however, it would simply be a start for them to stop making a profit on products that make the rest of us fat.

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