My local coffee shop in NYC has been promoting a new product called Fat Pig. The concept and packaging almost feel like a design student’s portfolio project, edgier than you’d expect to actually see produced in real life. Each think square brick is wrapped in hot pink foil, on top of that, a hot pink wrapper imprinted with a pig’s snout. So, should you want to be cute/funny/silly/entertaining/flirty, you hold the bar up to your face and boom: insta-pig. And that’s before you bite into $6.50 worth of organic chocolate. The marketing behind the launch has moments of brilliance. The company provides stores with pink plastic pig cameras so they can digitally snap photos of customers posing, snout mid-face. To wrap it up, there’s a hot pink window display of people happily mugging with their newest edible accessory.
Cute. Snarky. And effective. While I didn’t splurge for a bar, I did work the ubiquitous photo, which was pretty shocking as I don’t normally go for that kind of thing. And the campaign’s getting people talking. My particular conversation involved packaging, sugar fixes, expensive prices in NYC, organic versus non, chocolate cravings, portion control, and weight.
I stopped in for my daily iced coffee this morning and found Fat Pig prices slashed. They weren’t an overwhelming hit. What was a great idea on paper—pig noses, photo opps, entertaining displays—apparently wasn’t engineering return customers. Could be the high price, could be the smack-you-on-the-head indulgence message. The company basically invites you to put a red letter (or a pink snout) on your chest (face), outwardly proclaiming lack of control, encouraging you to pig out.
But what really got me was the copy on the back of the bar. No one had turned it over to read: “Get your snout in this. Shove every single square in your face right now. And do it quick. Or some other fat pig might ask you for a piece. Oink. Oink.”
No one talked for a moment when I finished reading the copy out loud. Ouch. It wasn’t cute or funny anymore.
Weight and food are complicated subjects. We’re bombarded with images of model perfect bodies covering every magazine while this country is more obese than ever. Celebrities hawk weight-loss programs, weight loss shows are popular reality fodder, low-fat and fat-free options are omnipresent as portion sizes have been spiraling out of control. Add eating disorders to the mix and we’ve got major health issues, either now or down the road, for millions. I read that copy as a former full-blown anorexic who still grapples with eating issues. As the mom of a pre-teen just starting down the rocky road of image and self-confidence. As a person continually astounded at the over-indulgences in this country. Big gulps that defy car cup holders. Sandwiches sandwiched between fried chicken instead of bread. Cups of coffee that are actually calorie-laden desserts with a straw. This, as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesteral are significant problems in this country.
Pigging out is already a problem. Calling it exactly that, doesn’t make it any better.