By now, unless you live under a rock or frequent a coffee house not offering free Wi-Fi, you’ve more than likely heard that Starbucks will, starting in May at all U.S. locations, make available a 31-ounce coffee (or tea or shake or whatever they make these days) behemoth named the Trenta. Its name translates from Italian to English as “thirty,” as in ounces of beverage, which is seven ounces larger (and 50 cents more expensive) than Starbucks’ largest current offering, the Venti. You’ve also likely heard people badmouthing this new offering all over the Internet, claiming that Starbucks, like many other American food purveyors and their advertisers (y’all reading this blog), is making us Americans fat. Which is complete and utter hooey.
Just check out some of the Tweets knee-jerkingly fired off in response to Starbucks’ announcement of the Trenta. It’s pretty clear where the “fat Americans” blame falls:
Without really wanting to get all philosophical in an ad blog, it’s unfortunately necessary here because the argument to be made against this “Starbucks is making us fat” assertion is purely philosophical in nature. Have these people who bemoan organizations like Starbucks and their advertisers ever heard of the concept of free will? Just in case they haven’t, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, free will is defined as “a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives.”
Meaning: human adult American consumers (the “rational agents”) are free to purchase the Trenta if they like, but the are also offered, by each and every Starbucks, other sizes (“various alternatives”) as well (namely, the smaller Tall-, Grande- and Venti-sized drinks), if they deem the Trenta too big, expensive, calorie-rich, et cetera. So yes, every single one of you reading this rant does indeed possess the ability to make your own food and beverage intake decisions among the alternatives provided, regardless of what some advertising/food purveyor haters with misplaced anger might say. Well, unless you’re in some restrictive cult somewhere and have all of your decisions made for you by someone else (in which, case, you have bigger fish to fry than worrying about the Trenta).
It's time to take some personal responsibility here and stop blaming others for poor decisions (in this case, making the decision to consume something known to contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle). Just because a restaurant advertises or offer some super-sized high-calorie items DOES NOT mean people need to bite, literally and figuratively. Although consumers are bombarded by advertising messages roughly one zillion times each day, we ad folks (contrary to popular belief) are not so good at our jobs that we can actually brainwash people into doing something that runs contrary to their personal ethos. If a certain restaurant offering is too big, contains too many calories, or is packed with too much fat for a person's tastes or dietary concerns or requirements, the simple solution is to make another choice. It’s that easy.
So, my fellow Americans, look inward when tempted to assign blame for the rampant Trenta* Caramel Frappuccino, Big Mac, and Double Down consumption. Own it. Don’t blame the seller or advertiser, because that's just barking up the wrong tree. Starbucks (or McDonald’s or KFC or…) isn’t making you fat. You are.