Commercial Break: Small Packets, Big Lies   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 13 November 2012
Program: Dr. Drew on Call
Channel: HLN
Conglomerate: Time Warner

Advertiser: Nectresse
Owned By: Tate & Lyle
Pitch: We make fake sugar from real things. 

There is something to be said for brevity, especially when it comes to misdirection.  This advertisement for one of those endlessly inferior non-sugar sweeteners takes a mere fifteen seconds, and this is the entirety of the spoken dialogue:

Born from the sweet monk fruit, something this delicious could only come from nature.  New Nectresse, the 100% natural no calorie sweeter, made from the goodness of fruit.  New Nectresse, sweetness naturally. 

As George Carlin one told us, there’s nothing the least bit healthy about something being “100% natural”.  After all, dog shit is totally natural, but that doesn’t make it very good food. 

More important is the quick elision of “Born from the sweet monk fruit”, which is a polite and legally defensible way of saying “this is the plant we started tormenting and manipulating to create this amalgam we’re selling”.  Should ye venture to the website, you’ll find that the ingredients are “(erythritol, sugar and molasses)”, and what is “erythritol”?  They’re glad you asked:

Erythritol is an all-natural, sugar alcohol that is naturally fermented from sugars and is found in many vegetables and fruits.

They once again use the meaningless but positive sounding word “natural” (twice!) to distract from the fact that what they’re actually talking about is a heavily processed chemical that they can derive from just about anything and put into powder form. 

None of which is to say that erythritol is bad or dangerous, or even that it’s a poor substitute for real sugar.  Artificial sweeteners have been around for a long time, millions of people use them, and they aren’t going anywhere.  What’s notable here is the rigorous adherence to trumped up fashion and health concerns that make these poor sentences burst at their punctuation with trendy bullshit.  Look at that narration again:

Born from the sweet monk fruit

First of all, nothing here is being “born”, and certainly not in the sense of a species propagating itself.  Secondly, calling fruit “sweet” is redundant and distracting:

In the culinary sense of these words, a fruit is usually any sweet-tasting plant product

Moreover, saying that . . .:

something this delicious could only come from nature

. . . is complete horseshit.  Everything comes from nature.  Rocks and sulfur come from nature.  Odorous hair gel comes from nature.  So when they say:

New Nectresse, the 100% natural no calorie sweeter, made from the goodness of fruit.

You know that they aren’t actually describing their product, they’re just chanting a refrain.  People like fruit and nature, and though both have just this side of nothing to do with “Nectresse” (which sounds like like what the ancient Greeks would’ve named their soap opera villains if they’d had teevee), by canting those happy words over and over they’re hoping to associate their very unnatural looking powder with “the goodness of fruit”.

That the ad features sugar packets flying like butterflies merely completes the lie:

Freedom, Horrible Horrible Freedom

Attack the humans!  Kill them all!

The entire message here is a deception, one designed to substitute something that doesn’t require a ton of chemical manipulation for something that does.  It isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s this kind of routine, almost habitual fabrication that makes otherwise sensible people think that anything produced by giant food companies is inherently evil.  It’s just a sugar substitute, but the ad tries to make it seem like something that Adam and Steve were using in the Garden of Eden even though everyone knows it isn’t. 

Posted November 14, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

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