Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Not-So-Smart Choice

When I read about the new Smart Choices food labeling program a couple of weeks ago I had flashbacks of my short tenure in brand management at Kraft Foods. Aside from the fact that my “food marketing” job had very little to do with food, I found it difficult to market my brand in good conscience. Viewed as a plum position out of business school, I eagerly took an entry level marketing position in the Post Cereal division of Kraft Foods, where I had completed a fabulous internship the summer before. I was learning a ton, and surrounded by smart, engaged co-workers. But still, it nagged me that in focus groups mothers would say things like, “I feed my children Fruity Pebbles because I want to make sure they get fruit.” What? Did I just hear that correctly? Replay. Oh yes I did. And so, after two life changing events in six months: my brother’s death and our marriage, I took inventory of what was important in my life and left my coveted marketing job and took a leap of faith, starting a personal chef service in Fairfield County. My goal: to give busy families truly good food. My clientele, I’d like to think, would never confuse Fruity Pebbles with fruit. But then again, if you trust everything you read, there’s always that chance for confusion. So as the glue dried on the robot, and I relished a couple of quiet minutes to peruse today’s newspaper, I was relieved to read that this confusing labeling program is coming under serious scrutiny. The only bummer to come out of this? The Assistant Brand Managers at every major food and beverage company are going to be pulling late nights working on package redesign, again.

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