Kids’ Brains React More Positively to Fast Food Logos Than Those of FedEx or BMW. Well, duh!

Medical Daily  reports a study conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center found that logos from fast-fooders are branded into the minds of children at an early age.

The study, showed children 60 logos from popular food brands, like Rice Krispies and KFC and 60 logos from popular non-food brands, like BMW and FedEx. The children were aged between 10 and 14. Then, using a functional MRI scanner, which measures blood flow to different areas in the brain, they watched the brains of these children react to the different logos.

When showed images of fast food companies, the parts of the brain that control pleasure and appetite lit up. The brains did not do the same when showed images from companies not associated with food. (Hmmmm, I guess those were brands like FedEx and BMW.)

So far so good, but then the article reports “researchers are concerned that marketers for these companies (the fast fooders) are tapping into the reward portions of the brain long before children develop self-control. In addition, most of the foods marketed to children are high in caloric content, sugars, fat and sodium.

This little segue follows nicely the Medical Daily article’s  two opening paragraphs, referencing rampant growth (pardon my word selection) in child obesity since 1980.

I hope we can all see where this is going.

Strong brands and their communications targeting relevant audiences do a good job of establishing brand awareness among those who actually might buy their products. It is proven by research. It is also proven in the research that brands that are irrelevant to the researched target audience, 10-14 year olds, actually sink below the waves and don’t register or are forgotten.

But don’t let those issues of relevancy get in the way. Fast food is bad for children. Fast brands are remembered and pleasurable to 10-14 year old children (so I would bet are xBox, Apple iPod, Justin Bieber and others). Sooooo, we need to take (legal, governmental, you put a name on it) action to PROTECT them from the brand meanies that get them fat. Cigarettes, motorcycle helmets, etc. …some of those regulations make sense, but until those 10 year olds start driving BMW’s and FedExing a lot, I don’t think this research and where it’s headed is 1) valid (potentially false hypothesis), 2) useful ( no fast food = skinny kids?) and 3) should be actionable (“keep the government’s hands off my fries”).

Read the complete article .


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