Kellogg's Shamed on Social Media for Its New Packaging

May 3rd 2016

Tricia Tongco

Kellogg’s probably had no idea that the branding of a high-fiber breakfast food could go so wrong.

Kellogg's Oats Products

The company was publicly shamed on Twitter recently for the packaging of its oats product, which features several bizarre elements of sexism.

The woman at the forefront of this critique of the company is Purnima Menon, a senior researcher at the International Food Policy Institute, who came across pictures of the oatmeal package on Facebook.

“I was so appalled that I decided to tweet it,” Menon said in an email to ATTN:.

In her tweets, Menon points out how the images and text used are both sexist and offensive. For one, the packaging solely focuses on the heart health of men while ignoring women’s needs.

In addition to an image of a woman spoon-feeding her husband, the list of suggested product purposes has loose ties to nutritional health but reads like a Stepford Wives' guide to improving any husband’s mood with oatmeal, evangelizing the power of Kellogg’s oats to "lighten him up," "manage the pressure," "energize him," and ensure "a happy husband."

In response to the question of how Kellogg’s could have “sold” this product without resorting to its sexist message, Menon had this to say:

It's hard to say but it could have been about familial health or women's health as well; it need not have been so blatantly about women caring for their husbands' health to "keep them happy." The back packaging language was enough to make one cringe!

People responded to Menon’s tweets with their own disapproval:

Menon admitted that her work mostly involves nutrition and public health, but as a food researcher, she has made these observations:

There is plenty of evidence that food marketing shapes purchases... There are plenty of food advertisements that perpetuate or emphasis gender stereotypes, and most of these position women in highly traditional roles around food.

The blatant gender roles present in the oats’ packaging harken back to vintage sexist advertising of the 1950s, similar to this ad:

sexist 1950s ad

“I think these likely reflect dominant societal norms around the roles of women in the household, sadly,” said Menon. “There are more progressive ads, too, of course, but so much of food advertising relies on these stereotypes.”

Sexist vintage ad

While there are campaigns to stop sexism in advertising, the discrimination against women in media is still a huge problem.

Just when you thought the drudgery of grocery shopping couldn’t be more of a pain.

[h/t First Post]