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Old 06-19-2006, 06:47 PM   #76
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I think you are overestimating the influence of McDonalds - there is no reduction of choice. Or are people so stupid they are just victims of all the ad campaigns?

Obviously, marketing is designed to influence choice - not as logical and reasonable choices, but choices that make us "feel" better. The choice still lies with the individual - 100%. And if it is not McDonalds, they will find some other source.

There are certain limitations on advertising - such as veracity of claims and prohibitations on hard alcohol and cigarettes. Does fast food belong in this category?
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Old 06-19-2006, 07:13 PM   #77
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...we should also tax water and air...you can go without those....
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Old 06-19-2006, 07:35 PM   #78
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Old 06-19-2006, 09:20 PM   #79
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
I think you are overestimating the influence of McDonalds - there is no reduction of choice. Or are people so stupid they are just victims of all the ad campaigns?

Obviously, marketing is designed to influence choice - not as logical and reasonable choices, but choices that make us "feel" better. The choice still lies with the individual - 100%. And if it is not McDonalds, they will find some other source.

There are certain limitations on advertising - such as veracity of claims and prohibitations on hard alcohol and cigarettes. Does fast food belong in this category?

for someone who believes in the power and influence of the media, i find it hard to believe that you're underestimating the influence of advertising, especially since you've written about the influence television has on children's behavior, how they imitate what they see on television, from sex to violence to generalized anti-social behavior. are these children so stupid that they are just victims of video games and movies? or do companies get a pass?

yes, the individual does, in one sense, always make a choice, but i think you underestimate the extend to which companies go to influence that choice and what "availability/ubiquity" does to limit actual choice -- just look at Starbucks.
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Old 06-19-2006, 09:33 PM   #80
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This strikes me as silly. Why not tax companies that sell ice cream? That's fattening, too.
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Old 06-19-2006, 11:07 PM   #81
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for someone who believes in the power and influence of the media, i find it hard to believe that you're underestimating the influence of advertising, especially since you've written about the influence television has on children's behavior, how they imitate what they see on television, from sex to violence to generalized anti-social behavior. are these children so stupid that they are just victims of video games and movies? or do companies get a pass?
And it doesn't work in reverse? your arguing that these companies deserve harsher treatment than violent media because of supposed negative side effects.

A person makes the decision to eat McDonalds or not, their situation may play into that but at the end of the day it is their choice - furthurmore keeping fit is also their responsibility and not that of

People choose to smoke, choose to drink, choose to do heroin - why should a burden of responsibilty be put upon those that provide the product?

I say allow violence in the media, sex in the media and advertising for cigarettes and booze in the media - if you have an adverse side effect from abusing a product and the facts are all in the public domain then it's your own fault. Personal responsibility is one price for liberty.
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Old 06-20-2006, 02:28 AM   #82
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for someone who believes in the power and influence of the media, i find it hard to believe that you're underestimating the influence of advertising, especially since you've written about the influence television has on children's behavior, how they imitate what they see on television, from sex to violence to generalized anti-social behavior. are these children so stupid that they are just victims of video games and movies? or do companies get a pass?
Let's distinguish what could be harmful from what the government must control or regulate. I can't expect my child to play violent video games all day and not be affected by the content. I can't expect my child to eat fast foods all day and be healthy. In both cases, the responsibility lies with the parent. Are you now suggesting a violent video game tax as well?

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Originally posted by Irvine511
yes, the individual does, in one sense, always make a choice, but i think you underestimate the extend to which companies go to influence that choice and what "availability/ubiquity" does to limit actual choice -- just look at Starbucks.
If anything, choice has increased. The success of McDonalds has led to the entire QSR industry - serving all forms of foods. The success of Starbucks has led to the coffee house industry - creating countless independent operators. Don't use big and successful as indicators of culpability.
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:56 AM   #83
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that stuff is gross

Can this spread be stopped?
Lawmaker wants schools to put a lid on Fluff

By Philip McKenna, Boston Globe Correspondent | June 19, 2006

The escalating war on junk food in schools has targeted a new enemy -- that gooey, sugary, and often irresistible sandwich spread known to children everywhere as Fluff.

Outraged that his son was served peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches at a Cambridge elementary school, state Senator Jarrett T. Barrios , a Democrat, said he will offer an amendment to a junk-food bill this week that would severely limit the serving of marshmallow spreads in school lunch programs statewide.

``A Fluff sandwich as the main course of a nutritious lunch just doesn't fly in 2006," Barrios said. ``It seems a little silly to have an amendment on Fluff, but it's called for by the silliness of schools offering this as a healthy alternative in the first place."

The measure is sure to rile fans of the Fluffernutter, the Fluff-and-peanut butter sandwich that has long been a sticky favorite of New England children including Barrios's son, Nathaniel, a third-grader at King Open School in Cambridge. Even some nutritionists say it makes little sense to single out Marshmallow Fluff, which was concocted by a Massachusetts man before World War I and is still made by a family-owned business in Lynn.

``I've been eating Fluff nearly my entire life" said Don Durkee, the 80-year-old president of Durkee-Mower Inc., whose father started the company with a business partner in 1920, after having bought the recipe for $500.

``The irony of this is Marshmallow Fluff happened to be invented in Somerville, Barrios's home district," Durkee said.

Svelte and fitness-conscious, Barrios is careful about his own diet -- he ate mostly eggs for breakfast for a time during the Atkins craze -- and is known for promoting salsa dancing lessons. So he was understandably startled to see his son ask for Fluff at their Cambridge home.

``I'm at home and my son wants to make a Fluffernutter sandwich," Barrios recalled. ``It turns out the Cambridge schools offer this as a nutritious lunch alternative to the meal of the day." Noting that Fluff is 50 percent sugar, he added, ``I'm not sure we should be even calling it a food."

Cambridge schools are not the only ones that offer Fluff. An informal poll conducted by Barrios's staff found that at least one school in 14, out of 26 Massachusetts school districts surveyed, served it in their lunchrooms.

Spurred by skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity and diabetes, many states are considering legislating sweets out of schools. Already this year, Iowa, Indiana, and Mississippi have passed bills regulating school nutrition. An additional 28 states, including Massachusetts, are debating similar measures. And last month the nation's soft-drink makers agreed to remove non-diet sodas from elementary and middle schools.

The bill in the Massachusetts Senate would prohibit most candy bars and potato chips, as well as soft drinks, from vending machines in elementary schools. Barrios felt that as long as they were removing junk food from vending machines, lawmakers should also restrict Fluff -- a concoction of corn syrup, sugar, dried egg white, and vanilla flavoring -- from the lunchroom.

Initially, the senator said he planned to seek a complete ban on marshmallow spreads from the school lunch program. But now his proposed amendment would limit the sugary foodstuff to being served once a week. Barrios said he decided not to call for a complete ban after consulting with other legislators.

Senator Richard T. Moore, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Finance and sponsor of the junk food bill, supports Barrios's amendment in theory, but thinks it can go further.

``We don't want to dismiss the idea as `fluff,' but we think we can go beyond that for something more comprehensive," Moore said in an interview. The Uxbridge Democrat said he is considering adding language to the bill to set more general nutritional standards for such things as sugars, fats, and portion sizes in school lunch programs, rather than targeting specific foods. Moore said he expects the bill to be brought up for a vote on the Senate floor in the next couple of weeks.

Health advocates question the targeting of marshmallow spreads.

``It seems a little odd to add this amendment," said Alicia Moag-Stahlberg, executive director of Action for Healthy Kids , a nonprofit organization in Skokie, Ill., that promotes good nutrition and physical activity in schools. ``There is no need to call out specific foods, like Fluff, as the school lunch program of Massachusetts already meets strong nutrition standards. As part of the school meal program, maybe Fluff is just fine. Maybe kids are having it instead of jelly."

Generations of New England children have grown up eating Fluff, which H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower originally called Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff when they went into business in 1920. They had bought the recipe from Archibald Query, who made the marshmallow cream in the kitchen of his Somerville home and sold it door to door, before going out of business because of wartime supply shortages.

It wasn't until about 1960 that an advertising agency coined the Fluffernutter name for the peanut butter and Fluff sandwich. Today, the company sells 1.7 million pounds of Fluff a year in the United States as well as in Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa.

But in Cambridge, children will no longer be served Fluff at school. The district has decided to remove it from its menu when classes resume in September.

The King Open School's principal, Tim Groves , is delighted to see Fluff go, but says schools have to be careful when phasing out sweets. When the school recently removed sugary cereals, it first let students vote on acceptable alternatives.

``It's important that the district provides food that is nutritious," Groves said. ``But it's also important that we provide foods that people eat."

King students couldn't agree more. ``A lot of my friends eat Fluffernutter because they don't like school lunch," said 12-year-old Simone Rivard , a sixth-grader . She isn't a big fan of the marshmallow spread herself, but doesn't think it should be restricted either. ``There shouldn't be laws saying what you can and can't eat," she sai
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Old 06-20-2006, 10:09 AM   #84
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And it doesn't work in reverse? your arguing that these companies deserve harsher treatment than violent media because of supposed negative side effects.


you're getting a whole bunch of things confused.

the point about violent media is to demonstrate what i saw as an inconsistancy on NBC's part -- that children are influenced by violent media, but they are not by advertising, or that children and parents have the "choice" to eat McDonalds or not but anti-social behavior that might follow violent programming should be curbed by requiring more stringent FCC standards applied to all television -- essentially, a censorship position. which is fine, but then it should be easy to understand, if we are to accept the ability of the media to influence, just how far fast food corporations are willing to go (and how much they will spend) in order to influence the choices one makes and even go so far as to limit actual choice both through ubiquity and through pure economics -- i.e., make Coca-Cola cheaper than bottled water, make hot dogs cheaper than apples, make McDonalds the cheapest meal possible.

it seems as if you are fine with this, and that's fine -- your position strikes me as consistent.

i also assume you are against "sin taxes" -- the heavy taxes levvied on cigarettes and alcohol. and that's fine too. the justification from those taxes comes from the perceived costs to society as a whole, usually in health care costs. hence, the tax is justified. my argument is less against a "sin tax," and more about which products we choose to label as "sin" -- i would argue that one Big Mac a day is going to do more damage to your health than one cigarette a day or one vodka tonic a day, but due to puritanical attitudes, and a binge-and-purge mentality when it comes to food combined with a general genuflection towards corporate interests, we'll never see hamburgers as sin but we'll always see vodka as sin when, in reality, one does more damage to health than the other.
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Old 06-20-2006, 10:20 AM   #85
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[B]
Let's distinguish what could be harmful from what the government must control or regulate. I can't expect my child to play violent video games all day and not be affected by the content. I can't expect my child to eat fast foods all day and be healthy. In both cases, the responsibility lies with the parent. Are you now suggesting a violent video game tax as well?

you're conflating things -- i am not comparing violent video game content to the fat-and-sugar content of a Happy Meal. what i am doing is pointing out the fact that companies spend a tremendous amount of money working to reduce perceptions of choice in the minds of the consumer, and they wouldn't spend that money if they didn't feel as if they were getting a return on their investment. you point to the influence of violent or sexual media on children, and teenagers, and also point to the negative influence of pornography on adults. that's fine. but don't then say that advertising by fast food companies (or whomever) doesn't have an effect upon notions of choice in the minds of the consumer. either media has an influence or it doesn't, influence isn't determined by whichever product we deem to be more harmful or not.



[q]If anything, choice has increased. The success of McDonalds has led to the entire QSR industry - serving all forms of foods. The success of Starbucks has led to the coffee house industry - creating countless independent operators. Don't use big and successful as indicators of culpability. [/q]


i think you overestimate the "countless" independent operators. yes, Starbucks can rightly be credited with the rise of coffehouse culture in the 1990s, and that's something i love and have participated in. but also understand that Starbucks actively seeks out independent coffeehouses and moves into their neighborhoods with the intent of knocking them out of business.

it's not big and successful that i have a problem with, i'm not even pointing out a "problem" i have, per se. what i am doing is pointing out that Starbucks has a very successful business model that is predicated upon ubiquity -- of being everywhere, of being so convenient and so accessible that meaningful choice is diluted.

another great example of this is where i work -- downtown Silver Spring gets written up as having undergone a huge revitilization in recent years. there's no question it's safer, there's more to do, and people now come out in mobs on the weekends. however, how do you get people from the suburbs into a once dangerous city? you put up chain stores -- there's a Borders, Chipotle, Pot Belly Deli, DSW, Baja Fresh, Macaroni Grill, Austin Grill, etc. what happens is, through familiarity, people are drawn to these stores and into the downtown, but the independent businesses in Silver Spring -- the great Thai restauran a block away, the West African place, the Burmese place, the record stores, the vintage clothing stores -- have all been damaged by chain stores pulling away business. how do they do this? through ubiquity -- consumers get so used to seeing a Borders or a Baja Fresh in every other strip mall in America, that they are naturally drawn to the more familiar, and a burrito from Chipotle is simply going to be cheaper than the Drunken Noodle at the Thai restaurant. even the restaurants in neighboring Takoma Park -- the authentic Guatemalan restaurants -- have been hurt by the "resurgance" of Silver Spring. why? large chains can advertise, they can target consumers, they can target children, they can offer slightly lower prices.

now, you can argue whether or not this is good or bad, but you cannot argue that overall meaningful choice is intentionally reduced.
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Old 06-20-2006, 11:24 AM   #86
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I think you are confusing influence of choice by marketing with elimination of choice. You can't get everyone to investigate and act on all their choices.

Can we really feel bad for the independents that once enjoyed their own form of monopoly and now face more competition? Their continued success should be based on the uniqueness of their offerings and better customer service. On the flip side, are there now people who are happier that they can get their burrito for lunch and have a little more left over?

As for Starbucks and independent operators, the company does not target independents but follows the more traditional business model of demographics and location. What you might not know is that independents actually do better with a Starbucks nearby, as the overall coffee knowledge of the consumer is increased.

The meaningful choice is there, and independents can thrive by providing a quality alternative. Not everyone will be a ubiquitous retailer.
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Old 06-20-2006, 11:48 AM   #87
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
I think you are confusing influence of choice by marketing with elimination of choice. You can't get everyone to investigate and act on all their choices.



no. i am saying that advertising seeks to influence choice and the ability of chain stores to blanket a market and increase their availability strives to eliminate choice. it's possible to do two things at the same time. Coca-Cola is a perfect example of this -- why do you think there's a vending machine in every conceivable location?




[q]Can we really feel bad for the independents that once enjoyed their own form of monopoly and now face more competition? Their continued success should be based on the uniqueness of their offerings and better customer service. On the flip side, are there now people who are happier that they can get their burrito for lunch and have a little more left over?[/q]


that's interesting -- viewing independents as their own sort of monopoly (it also strikes me a completely convenient viewpoint of big business). i think you overestimate the "uniqueness" and "customer service" and how that influences choice -- most choice is predicated upon price and convenience, and you nicely use the idealized word "should" when reality hardly plays out that way.

there are several stories of increased muggings in DC's Chinatown/7th Street Corridor precisely due to the influx of chain restaurants. this is another area that was given a shot of revitilization with an influx of chain stores. one big difference between a chain and an independent is the sense of ownership by an independent -- in very practical terms, an independent will strive to keep beggers and homeless out of their stores and off their propety, even calling the police should a threat be perceived by his customers. employees in chain stores are far less likely to do so, and thus you have an increase in muggings in the Chinatown area because people with money are drawn to this neighborhood


[q]As for Starbucks and independent operators, the company does not target independents but follows the more traditional business model of demographics and location. What you might not know is that independents actually do better with a Starbucks nearby, as the overall coffee knowledge of the consumer is increased.[/q]


this i'd have to disagree with -- Starbucks deliberately targets independents in any particular neighborhod. you might be right about overall coffee knowledge increased, and as the quality of Starbucks has declined precipitously over the past few years, perhaps the children of Starbucks now seek out better alternatives. but there has still been a price to pay in homogenization, and i think you've seen the rise of alternatives to Starbucks not in independents (outside of, perhaps, college towns) but in other chains such as Caribou Coffee.


Quote:
The meaningful choice is there, and independents can thrive by providing a quality alternative. Not everyone will be a ubiquitous retailer.

but all of your corporations seek to erode that meaningful choice. that meaningful choice is their competition, and no matter how quality the alternative, there are certain things independents cannot do and amounts of money that independents cannot spend. i'd love to introduce you to Anna and Jorge who run a delicious Guatemalan restaurant in Takoma Park named El Gulfo, and i'd like to ask you about how well they are able to compete with the various upscale chain restaurants in Silver Spring such as Macaroni Grill, Austin Grill, Red Rock Canyon, Ceveiche, etc.

i simply don't share your unshakable faith in the markets.
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Old 06-20-2006, 12:08 PM   #88
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no. i am saying that advertising seeks to influence choice and the ability of chain stores to blanket a market and increase their availability strives to eliminate choice. it's possible to do two things at the same time. Coca-Cola is a perfect example of this -- why do you think there's a vending machine in every conceivable location?
Saturation of a market is done with diminishing returns. I am not concerned so much with the abundance of Coke machines as I am with limitations placed on alternatives. Coke doesn’t prevent a choice, but works hard to be the most attractive.



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Originally posted by Irvine511
that's interesting -- viewing independents as their own sort of monopoly (it also strikes me a completely convenient viewpoint of big business). i think you overestimate the "uniqueness" and "customer service" and how that influences choice -- most choice is predicated upon price and convenience, and you nicely use the idealized word "should" when reality hardly plays out that way.

By “monopoly” I mean that these independents enjoyed a lack of competition in their “territory”. With a fluid market, you really can’t stake a claim on “we were here first” as these independents referenced in your prior post likely displaced other purveyors of food.

And uniqueness and customer service are absolutely keys to success. Any fool can pour a cup of coffee – people find their way to Starbucks because they enjoy (or should) a higher level of customer service.

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
there are several stories of increased muggings in DC's Chinatown/7th Street Corridor precisely due to the influx of chain restaurants. this is another area that was given a shot of revitilization with an influx of chain stores. one big difference between a chain and an independent is the sense of ownership by an independent -- in very practical terms, an independent will strive to keep beggers and homeless out of their stores and off their propety, even calling the police should a threat be perceived by his customers. employees in chain stores are far less likely to do so, and thus you have an increase in muggings in the Chinatown area because people with money are drawn to this neighborhood
Interesting, chain stores have more resources and for formal requirements to provide for employee safety and security. In my experience, I would associate beggers and homeless with independent stores, not chain stores.
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Old 06-20-2006, 12:27 PM   #89
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this i'd have to disagree with -- Starbucks deliberately targets independents in any particular neighborhod.
On what information are you basing your description of intent (deliberately targeting)?
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Old 06-20-2006, 01:02 PM   #90
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On what information are you basing your description of intent (deliberately targeting)?


you're a lawyer.

Starbucks uses litigation or threat of litigation against its competition which are usually independent coffee shops.

they shut down an independent company named after its owner, Sam Buck, causing her to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to Starbucks. she was required to change the name of her small shop:

http://www.dailyastorian.info/main.a...SectionID=&S=1



another suit involved a small roaster who had a very dark roast called Charbucks.:

http://business.cch.com/informtechno...2-10adl-06.asp



in both of these situations, Starbucks did not win, but these independent companies incurred thousands of dollars in legal fees that nearly caused bankruptcy. and there are more -- the artist who parodied the Starbucks siren, or HaidaBucks, a small sandwich shop in Canada, as well as threatening legal action for linking to the Starbucks website.

as well you know, a small company with half a dozen employees cannot compete with a Starbucks legal team. the ends that Starbucks goes to to pick on and attempt to put these small coffee shops out of business speaks volumes for the attitude Starbucks has regarding their competition. rather than compete on a relatively level playing field by innovating and offering better products, it silences competition via lawsuit. while the rise of coffeehouse culture in the US and a more discerning American coffee pallet can be considered good things, these advances come at the expense of small businesses.
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