Home Blogs The corporate spin FAIL of the year so far

The corporate spin FAIL of the year so far


Oh Mars! Really?

In this day and age, do corporate spin machines really think that if they spin the truth to Orwellian proportions we’ll either be completely hoodwinked or go along with it because, well, it’s all part of the game? What do they think this is, politics?

Mars Snackfoods, makers of the popular confectionery Mars Bar, announced on the weekend that it would be reducing the size of Mars Bars from 60g to 53g, making it 11.6 percent lighter. The price, however, will remain the same.

But rather than being honest and declaring to the world that, ‘Hey, times are tough. We’re reducing our product size as a reaction to difficult market conditions,’ (a line that would hardly be greeted with outrage or even surprise in the current climate), Mars came out with a laughable line about how they are taking this action in the interests of consumer health – to fight the obesity epidemic.

Firstly, Mars, ahhh… you sell chocolate bars. You might have seen McDonald’s harried into offering a “healthy options” menu, but the difference is Maccas came up with new, healthier products. They didn’t make Big Macs 11 percent smaller, charge the same and pat themselves on the back.

When tobacco companies downsize a packet of cigarettes but not the price, they don’t send out a press release claiming that it is because they’ve decided to save lives.

If your local pub can downsize its schnitzel counter meal without the need for smoke and mirrors, why did Mars feel the need to stage this meticulously choreographed side-show?

Yes, yes, Mars will be reducing the price of some of the other 89 chocolate products that will also be downsized. And the company is even making the anti-obesity spin easier to stomach by introducing clearer nutritional labelling and removing artificial colours and flavours from Mars, Snickers and Milky Way.

But the most telling evidence that this is all merely reverse-engineered spin, that this decision is all about the mighty dollar, is that the story was released in time for the weekend. In the popular NBC television show The West Wing, CJ and the White House communications team referred to the common tactic of dumping inconvenient news to the press late on Friday, when reporters are busy making plans ahead of a lull in the media cycle, as “taking out the garbage”.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to want to increase your profit or avoid losses. It’s the nature of capitalism. But please don’t dress up commercial decisions to this end as crusading social do-gooding.

Mars, if you want to be seen as fighting obesity, you have three options. 1. Stop making chocolate bars. 2. Stop promoting your chocolate bars. 3. Launch a charitable program to promote exercise and good dietary habits, especially among children.

If none of these options are appealing, at least lay off the sugary spin. The rest of us aren’t buying it.

Photo: Dan Taylor (Flickr)