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I’m going to give you some of the secrets about how marketers make you buy what they want you to buy. So, as a marketer, when they’re first given a project, what’s their job? Well, their job is to make you want it, to crave it, to need it, to think that it is the best innovation in food since sliced bread.

How do they do it? Well, I’m going to give a really big example later that I’m going to break right down for you, but let’s just start by looking at a few fun little things.

See here we have Shreddies, an old favorite, been around for years. Very popular in the U.K. and Canada.


Without changing a single little thing about that product they remarketed them, rebranded them as brand-new diamond-shaped Shreddies. Food marketing genius right there.



In the 1950s, there was a very important innovation in food: the instant-mix cake. One of my personal favorites. When they were first brought out all you needed to do was to add a little bit of water. Who’s not going to love that? Well, actually, no one loved it. No one bought the bloody thing, so they did a little bit of research. And what they found was that the main consumer, the target consumer, the housewife, felt that it was cheating.

They didn’t want to pass off such an easy thing as their own baking to their partners, their husbands, their families, whatever. So what did the producers have to do? They had to make it harder. So now you had to add water and an egg, and sales exploded.

These examples, these are just chicken feed compared to what I really want to talk about in this post and that is: chickens, and pigs, and cows. So when we think about where chickens, etc. come from, we think about something like this:


That’s also our instinctive idea, but we all know if we really think about it deeply, it’s probably a little bit more like that, but that’s a lot nicer. It’s a lot more romantic.

So how do they give you this impression? Well, there are three techniques that they use, the third of which is their secret weapon, and I am going to blow it for you in a minute, so please stay primed for that.

Let’s look at technique number one. Everybody believes what’s on the label. So let’s look at some examples, some of my favorite, some of the ones they use all the time. They’ll use farm fresh. They’ll use 100 percent natural. They’ll use butcher’s choice. But what does that really actually mean?


Well, truthfully, it doesn’t mean very much. We see that on the label, we feel a bit more confident. But let’s have a look at what a farm really looks like. It probably looks like this:


Now this is a concentrated animal feeding operation. I’m going to run that past you again. It’s a concentrated animal feeding operation. That’s not going to look great on a label, hence they use farm fresh.

Innovation number two. This is what they use: they focus on progress. Intensive farming was born out of necessity. At the end of the second World War, resources were extremely tight. Farming had to be by necessity very, very economical and we’ve learnt from that and we’ve built from that, and we’re able to now raise more and more animals in smaller and smaller spaces. So we got extremely good at it.

If we looked at an everyday lecture hall and turned it into a chicken barn . . . it’s a hundred-seat theater. How many chickens could we probably fit in this room now? I’m going to say about 4,000. It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? It’d probably look a little bit like this:

Chicken breeding for Wiesenhof poultry farming

Now, the public aren’t going to be massively keen on that idea.

It’s the marketer’s job to make them feel a little bit better about it. So how do they do it? Well, a basic principle of marketing. They use the right choice of words, and by using the right choice of words they can make the conversation, they can focus the conversation the way they want it to.

So we’ll use an example of this.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 23.24.31

When you look at that picture, where is your eye drawn? It’s drawn right to the middle of the page, massive letters. We’ve got: strive to optimize. What we’re looking at in the picture in reverse looks a bit like that. But this looks a lot nicer because we’re looking at strive to optimize. It makes us feel there’s progress. We feel good.

So the challenge for the marketers is to make the public feel comfortable about what they’re seeing. One of the side effects of intensive farming, of having so many animals in such a small space, unfortunately, is obviously disease because if you put so many animals into a small space they’re going to get sick. It is no secret that 50 percent of all the antibiotics in the world are used on farmed animals.

So how do you make the public feel okay with this? How does that happen? Marketer’s job. How do they do it? They use the language of innovation. So we’re going back to our old friends at porkcares.org, and what they do is they say, “As farming has . . . become more efficient, veterinarians have incorporated new technologies and methods into practice.” This makes us feel good. This is positive.

So on to their secret weapon! This is what we really need to focus on. So these two techniques alone, they are not going to work. They need a secret weapon, number three. It is actually in the room right now with you. Secret weapon.

It is you.

So how do they do it? When you’re in the supermarket, you don’t want to think about where those products come from. You don’t want to think about how those animals have been reared, how they’ve been treated. The power of willful ignorance cannot be overstated. This is systemized cruelty on a massive scale and they only get away with it because everyone is prepared to look the other way.

Your wilful ignorance allows animal cruelty to continue on mass scales.