It's good to be back at work, and I'm looking forward to picking up some of the exciting research projects I parked when I went on leave.
I have been thinking a lot about the focus of my research over the past few months and can't get away from the big question about marketing's impact on our culture, practice and lives. A dad at my toddler's swimming lesson last weekend chastised his son for choosing a pink 'noodle' to swim with, saying it was a 'girly colour'. That isn't his idea or concept, it is societally embedded. It's essentially nonsense; a total social construction. It's also fairly harmless, but there are plenty of societally embedded 'beliefs' that are less harmless. The idea that breakfast cereal is the 'best' thing for breakfast despite the high sugar and low nutritional content, or the idea that dietary fat is 'bad for you'; these are harmful untruths that feel like 'facts'. The list goes on, and stretches into our concepts of beauty, health, gender, power, political ideology and so on.
In many cases, marketing has an important role to play in crafting, indeed dominating, the way we see the world. When I say 'marketing', I mean 'industry'. Marketing is all of business. When Coca Cola releases a physical activity program and drops the sugar content of its drinks, it is saying 'keep drinking fizzy drinks, it's normal and ok'. But flavoured, sweet, sugary drinks are not ok and contribute to a large proportion of the empty calories consumed each day by an increasingly obese population. When 'breakfast biscuits' are released onto the market with icons and branding which makes them look 'healthy', people believe they are making healthy choices by eating biscuits for breakfast. If they were called 'Custard Creams' they would think twice. Marketing is powerful and industry can - and regularly does - abuse that power. Just read this short article on the sugar industry if you don't believe me.
So I intend to redouble my efforts to explore the impact of marketing on our own lives. I look forward to working across a range of areas and with a range of exciting academics I've been building links with in recent years.