Thorntons and the corporate nudge

I had the expectation that the Easter vacation would probably enable me to escape well-intention nudges towards my eating habits – it is, after all, a time for the indulgent consumption of all things sweet! I was thus surprised (actually not all that surprised) to find some very interesting corporate nudging on my young daughter’s Thorntons “Girls Gift Parcel”.

On top of the box, which tantalizingly contained White Chocolate Buttons (40g), Milk Chocolate Buttons (40g), Milk Chocolate Raisins (40g) and Vanilla Fudge Cubes (40g), was a small picture of tooth bush brandishing mouse. The smiling mouse rather annoyingly states, “I know to brush my teeth twice a day!” As a parent, I have to admit that it is reassuring to think that every time my daughter reaches for a milk chocolate raisin or a fudge cube that she will be reminded of the importance to brushing her teeth.

But the cynic in me couldn’t help looking at thing differently. Isn’t it slightly strange that a chocolatier is promoting dental care? Isn’t this a little like McDonalds placing a statement on a Big Mac that reads “Ronald knows the importance of a healthy and balanced diet – and, by the way, you wouldn’t get anything remotely resembling that inside this box!”

My point is that when corporations nudge, it often serves to ethically cleanse their product of the potential damage it is doing to you. Perhaps an alternative strategy would be to supply information on the role of chocolate in accelerating dental decay. In addition, Thorntons’ teeth cleaning campaign feels somewhat patronizing when you are a parent – children know they should clean their teeth, getting then to actually do it is a different thing entirely. In a rather selfless act of hard paternalism I have thus been protecting my daughter’s teeth by assisting her consumption of her Easter chocolate mountain.

Mark

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