By now you’ve probably heard about the report alleging that chicken nuggets served at fast-food restaurants are only 40 percent meat.
It’s the typical “lighter side of the news” story that allows local broadcasters to snicker self-righteously as they banter about “what’s in that other 60 percent?” at the close of the 11 pm newscast.
As if they’ve never dined at an establishment that didn’t have white tablecloths and tuxedoed waiters.
Of course, to the average low-information fast-food patron—not that there couldn’t be a PhD or two idling in the drive-thru lines at McDonald’s or Wendy’s (the researchers are keeping the names of the fast food stores they sampled a “secret” . . . wink, wink)—the news that chicken nuggets contain ingredients other than meat must have come as a violent shock. Something that really rocked their world.
Like being told that it will slowly start getting colder at night as the calendar moves along toward the holidays.
The study in question was conducted by medical researchers at the University of Mississippi, which is only appropriate: That state has an abysmal rate of adolescent and adult-onset obesity. In fact, the researchers themselves noted as much in their study:
“Mississippi leads the nation’s epidemic of obesity, and Jackson, the state capitol (sic), which has just over a half million citizens, boasts 50 different companies offering varying numbers of fast food outlets. Because chicken nuggets are a favorite of children, and the obesity epidemic now extends to them as well, we thought knowing a bit more about the content of the contemporary chicken nugget could be important.”
And that content was gleefully reported by Mother Jones magazine, which began its “exposé” with the following introduction:
“Marketing isn’t about giving people what they want; it’s about convincing people to want what you’ve got—that is, what you can buy cheap, spiff up, and sell at a profit.”
Okay, as a former principal at a marketing firm, I take offense to that notion. Sure, if all you have are “cheap” products, and your business model is based on creating new ways to overcharge gullible customers, then yes: Your “marketing” is all about suckering people into buying something that’s not worth the price they paid.
But really, how often does that work, at least over the long-term? In virtually every business sector, companies that adopt such tactics usually end up stranded on the roadside, dumped off by former customers who wised up to the scam.