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PR Fail: Two Million Reasons Why Candy Does Not Make You Fat
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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If you have been in this beloved profession for any amount of time, you have surely seen your number of dunderhead PR campaigns. There's the olfactory overload known as Abercromie & Fitch, which in 2002, right before Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, began using the month as a marketing ploy for its hot rice-paddy-wearing, buck-tooth-having, horribly-racist Asian-Pacific-American shirt series. There's something more current, like the GOP hiring a PR strategist to educate America that it is not the "stupid party." Perhaps you remember the infamous case study of "Big Tobacco" hiring top-dog lobbyists to tell Congress that smoking doesn't kill people...stupid people jonesin' for a cigarette kill themselves. 

And now there's this, brought to us by the National Confectioners' Association. This is the proud D.C.-based organization that is breaking open its big piggy bank to the tune of $2 million (put your pinky up to your mouth when you say that) to tell D.C. — wait for it — that candy doesn't make you fat

That's right, ladies and germs. Candy doesn't make you fat. It's your glands, right? No, sorry. It's those Reese's Pieces in your back pocket. Yep, that's it. According to the gut-busting and side-splitting story in AdAge.combillion-dollar conglomerates like Nestle, Mars, and Hershey's are putting the band back together to hire a slick PR firm that can manage this campaign, steal...earn $2 million for awareness and possibly keep a straight face. 

Work by a new agency will likely supplement the association's existing efforts, such as a website redesign and a recent "Treat Right" campaign, which, according to Confectionery News, is a voluntary measure that encourages candy manufacturers to move calorie counts to the front of packaging.

Aside from noting there is a trade publication for every vice known to man, this is all about pointing a finger at people and not have four more pointing back at them, right? Can you blame them? Candy is a billion-dollar sweet haven and the last thing these big sweet companies want is government regulation regarding health risks associated with wheelbarrows of sugar. Actually, let's use the terms these organizations actually call each other: "Big Candy" and "Big Sugar." (No really. Look it up.) It seems while this brouhaha is going on, the aforementioned "Big Candy" is looking to persuade companies to move a calorie count label to the front of candy wrappers. 

That right, kids. A page right from "Big Tobacco's" playbook. Except these sweet-tooth, surreptitious soothsayers are a little janky with their warning labels. According to this related story by Business Insider, the "calorie labels are colored labels are green, which magically creates a tendency for dolts who scratch their face in the express lane like a crack head hurting for a fix to believe they are eating 'eco-friendly' candy...or healthy candy?!?! Willy Wonka would be rolling in his great glass elevator after this story. 

My question is, when does this PR campaign focus on the FDA? Why? Recommended Daily Allowances have been in my life since I was born for things like sodium and fat, yet there is no such measurement for sugar. Again, no, really. You know, come to think of it. I need a new car, and I can spin this. Hey, um, Mr. Candy and Sugar? Holler at a brother. I have all my teeth and am actually allergic to cocoa — so no chocolate for me. Don't worry, it's just between us. Much like your hapless attempt at spin control, no one will know. 



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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is G.M. and PR Director at Bolt PR in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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