Stephanie Marcus

Skinny Pretzels Part Two - Supermodel Emme tells advertisers to “Stop being so lazy.”

UPDATE: I just received an e-mail from Perry Abbenante, the VP of marketing for Pretzel Crisps who said:

Based on the feedback received from you and other bloggers, we are switching directions with our ad campaign and will be taking the ‘You can never be too thin’ ads down.”


Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor is the lady we have to thank for gracing the world with the phrase, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” 

It’s something we’ve heard countless times in pop culture, and usually associated with vapid, wealthy women who obsess over the superficial.  But it’s also incredibly played out.  And that’s why Pretzel Crisps’ new ad campaign with the slogan, “You can never be too thin…” is just simply irresponsible.

This is 2010 and we’ve been through 20 plus years of these kind of messages shoved in our faces. Consider that Jean Kilbourne has made four Killing Us Softly films since 1979 documenting all of the incredibly damaging and irresponsible ads that have helped contribute to a society where more than 10 million people in the US alone have eating disorders, and millions more suffer from body image issues. It’s 2010 and it’s enough.

I was put off enough by  the Pretzel Crisps ad to call up the National Eating Disorders Association and get their thoughts on the ad. NEDA put me in touch with supermodel and clothing designer, Emme, who is also the founder of the Body Image Council - a group with the goal of increasing public awareness around eating disorders, obesity, body image and self-esteem “through innovative media, big industry, public policy and an overhaul of the school lunch program throughout the K-12 educational system.”

As the world’s first plus size model (who was twice named one of People’s “50 Most Beautiful People”), Emme knows a thing or two about beauty and expectations, and was more than candid when asked her thoughts on the ad.

She agreed the ad was irresponsible but more than that, “It’s heartless and not compassionate, and more than anything just lazy.”

Ads that prey on our insecurities are the bread and butter of the advertising industry but Emme is ready to call marketers out saying that, “It’s so passé, it’s cheap and old. They are just repeating what has been done in the past, I mean be creative. If they were smart wouldn’t go for the low blow or the cheap trick.”

She should tell that to Perry Abbenante, the VP of marketing for Pretzel Crisps and one of the brains behind the ad.

According to Abbenante, the poster was one of four ads in a new campaign that officially launched on Monday. Other slogans you are likely to see popping up around New York include:

“Perfect for skinny dipping,” “A new star in the Garden,” (in reference to the product being sold at Madison Square Garden) and the kicker, “Tastes as good as skinny feels,” as a play on the phrase “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” uttered last year by super-waif Kate Moss, and a known mantra of “thinspiration” upheld by the pro-anorexic community.

"It’s a thin pretzel and thin is just an attribute of the product," he said.  "We’re a small company, and we had to come up with something that would catch people’s attention in a short amount of time.”

Abbenante said the ads aren’t meant to be taken literally and that the company apologizes if people take offense to the ad’s message.

While the company denies the ad is about anything other than the dimensions of its product, it seems that maybe they should own up to the fact that they were being really lazy when it came to trying to create a clever campaign.

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