I’m not very good with subliminal advertising, but (apparently) eating sugar makes you look like Eamon Sullivan — which I guess would be good. Or perhaps it just makes you take your clothes off — not so good (in my case). Either way, the latest CSR sugar advertisement sends a pretty damn irresponsible message about sugar.

The purpose of the ad is to sell CSR sugar. And so I guess the reason they didn’t use a n-de Matt Preston (for example) was that they wanted us to believe that eating CSR sugar would give us (or our significant other) abs like Eamon’s.

Maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions. Maybe Eamon always noods-it-up for a spot of baking (although I can’t say I noticed that when he won MasterChef). But there’s no shortage of research to tell us that eating sugar (in our birthday suit or fully clothed) is the single least effective way to get a washboard stomach.

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Eamonn_Sullivan_CSR_sugar

And you don’t need to look too hard to find that science. Even CSR’s own website warns us “There is some evidence to suggest that [the fructose half of sugar] is handled differently in the body and may be associated with obesity and other health issues”.

Eamon must have missed the memo (that sugar makes you fat) because when asked about his role in the advertisement, he is quoted as responding “statistics showed that while obesity rates were rising, sugar consumption was falling”.

Really? What statistics would those be? The only ones I could find show exactly the opposite (a consumption increase of more than 50% since 1990). But that data is maintained by the Australian Government’s Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) — what would they know?

Eamon went on to say “the CSR sugar in the ad was in fact low-GI”. Well, yes (maybe), but all sugar is low(ish) GI. And the worst for making you fat and sick (pure fructose) is the lowest of the lot. In fact it is one of the lowest GI carbohydrates known to man.

That alone should make us suspicious of the use of the GI rating at all. GI symbols lost any credibility when they started turning up on packets of pure sugar. They are a symbol of nothing more than the food manufacturer’s willingness to give up profit (they pay a percentage of sales for the right) in return for our gullibility.

CSR should know the GI symbol is a spurious health claim and it knows its product is dangerous (to human health). It admits as much on the website. This is why it doesn’t make any claims to the contrary in its ad (lawyers can be so annoyingly literal about these things). It just leaves it to us to use our imagination and imply benefits that are never actually claimed.

CSR’s candid admission as to the dangers of fructose is far more than any tobacco company ever managed (before they were forced to). We banned cigarette advertising at sporting events almost 20 years ago because we didn’t want our kids accepting an association between cigarettes and sport. For exactly the same reason we shouldn’t put up with CSR pushing its way under Eamon’s healthy halo.

Sugar will not make you look like Eamon. CSR knows it, (hopefully Eamon knows it) and you know it too. So let’s stop this farcical advertising before someone gets hurt.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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