This is the final installment in our series about who could make the biggest impact in reversing America's bloated obesity rates. Using my solid-liquid-gas metaphor, we've seen how the "solid" grocers and restaurateurs, "gas-like" researchers and activists, and (mostly) undisciplined consumers cannot lead us out of the obesity morass. I concluded that a solution is more likely to emanate from the more "liquid" packaged foods marketers, companies like General Mills, Kraft, and, yes, even The Coca-Cola Company. But these companies end up behaving more like resistant-to-change solids due to their subservience to quarterly earnings pressures.
Why would they change?
I have highlighted how tactics that attack the very essence of a food marketer's business like soda taxes and fat bans elicit the exact opposite reaction than what was intended. Instead, it's time for a game-changer, a new paradigm that shifts the debate from penalizing industry to creating incentives for them to act in the public's best interest.
It's time to push them to be even better ... marketers.
Here are some suggestions:
First, attacking the name on the building is a non-starter. Like storming the Bastille, the change agent activists want to overthrow the entire system of processed foods. When one proposes to tax the name on the building (as in the case of soda taxes), it can be guaranteed that the recipient will not be cooperative. Frontal assaults on industry practices cause marketers to dig in and revert back to defending the status quo. Protecting against such attacks becomes a badge of honor. Like bees in a beehive, they will do anything to defend their brand queens.