I nearly choked on my low fat rice cake when I saw the timeless Audrey Hepburn zipping along the Amalfi coast, Galaxy bar in hand, making us believe that by buying a piece of sugar-and-fat-filled confectionery that we too can be living la dolce vita while at the same time cutting a pleasing figure in those Capri pants. The thing is Miss Hepburn’s elfin beauty was predicated on the effects of WWII starvation rationing and later rumours of anorexia so if you’re thinking you too can get the look and the lifestyle by chomping on a chocolate bar you’re probably just the kind of person the Mad Men are after. Actually, maybe the advertising of chocolate bars is much more in keeping with those heady, aspirational days of the 1950s when chocolate was indeed a luxury and an occasional treat, not like today when it’s a food staple on top of a whole lot of other junk.
But what I find most annoying is the endless encouragement – by advertisers and practically all of the ‘celebrity’ cooks – to eat cake, indulge, eat more cake, indulge some more – is how two-faced it all is. You have Nigella insisting that only full-fat will do whilst turning on a designer heel and dropping a couple of stone in order to break the super-lean and super-lucrative US market. Or the two Hairy Muppets extolling the virtues of lard one week while telling us the next that it’s actually not that good for you. It always seems to be a case of treating us like a lot of clueless plebs – like inviting us to the Great Bake-Off Tea Party to stuff our faces but expecting us to purge and throw up in the portaloo round the back when we’ve done. Maybe that’s why they’ve chosen a departed film star for this campaign as she won’t be able to embarrass the company in question by announcing that she’s going on a diet the next week. These guys – embarrassed? Maybe that is going a bit far!