Shreddies: four layers of bullshit

So, Shreddies have dropped their cutesy “Knitted by Nanas” marketing campaign (which was actually a sneaky attempt to pretend they were all lovely people, not a giant baby-killing, child-slaving, famine-exacerbating industrial food-processing corporation). Instead, they’re now promoting their small squares of processed wheat with the following ziggurat of bollocks:

There are at least four separate paradigms of shit marketing bollocks at play here.

First, there’s the chatty packaging: the combination of cutesy font and informal language which tries to pretend that NestlĂ© and us are best pals sharing a joke – and which has become ubiquitous in British food marketing. Some blame it on Innocent Drinks, and they may have been the first to introduce or popularise it, but given its rapid spread, I suspect there’s something more fundamental at work. Perhaps it’s that, as the reality of industrial food production becomes ever further distanced and concealed from consumers, producers feel an ever greater need to fake that sense of close, trustworthy connection.

Second, there’s the idea that it’s some kind of precision-engineered technological marvel. Clearly, they don’t expect us to believe the surface gloss. The claim that layer 2 is designed to stay crisp while layer 3 absorbs the milk is an obvious absurdity which is part of the chummy in-joke (see bullshit layer 1). But they’re still using the subliminal power of that joke, along with all the sciencey CGI, to implant the suggestion that Shreddies are a high-tech, Heston Blumenthal-style product (and don’t get me started on the issue of Heston Blumenthal selling out his legacy as a genuine pioneer of scientifically innovative food, to peddle what’s basically a microwave meal with a bit of unexpected lime).

Third, there’s the weird “four-man band” idea in which every layer is described as having a distinct feature / personality. It’s analogous to the way the music industry markets its manufactured pop groups to pretend they’re all wackily different individuals, instead of the blandly homogeneous professional sock-puppets they have to be to survive the relentless wholesaling of their entire lives that is their career.

Fourth and finally, there’s the paradigm that says everything has to be an EPIC experience, which is really just the latest iteration of middle-aged marketers’ cringeworthy desperation to appeal to teenagers. Does anyone remember when Golden Grahams tried to present themselves as the cool cereal of choice for skaterboarders, despite the fatal impediment that they were limp yellow squares called “Graham”?

Maybe, again, it’s the painful awareness of how far the reality is from the image that drives the marketers to expend so much pointless and degrading energy promoting that image. Breakfast cereals are about the most un-epic thing in existence: small, flavourless (or sugar-crammed) scabs of extruded grain, which you have to moisten with milk before you can force a few spoonfuls down your gullet, because you don’t have time for a proper breakfast of bacon and/or eggs.

Layers of satisfaction? It’s a flake of dried wheat paste. Get a fucking grip.

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