Sweet Drinks Advertised Deceptively

Sweet Drinks

I just read an interesting article about how beverage manufacturers advertise sweet drinks directly to children. This advertising, along with lower prices, steers consumers to those products. This is aided by deceptive labeling on bottles that confuse parents.

When children consume sweet drinks, they become unhealthier. There is no question about the link between poor diet and health. There is also no question that advertising works. Advertising designed to make a product appealing to a child does so. Labeling designed to fool people does so.

The question the article poses is if government has any role in all of this. I’ve certainly written about the role of government in sweet drinks in the past. Taxes were my topic of discussion at that time but today I want to talk more about regulation.

Regulating Sweet Drinks

As a Libertarian I’m not as opposed to regulation as you might think. I think false and misleading advertising definitely fall under the purview of criminality and the government. The problem is that we have laws to prevent false labeling and false advertising and, as usual, manufacturers find ways to bypass those laws.

It’s incredibly difficult to create an effective law to modify human behavior. We often see a law designed with the best intentions ending up being more harmful than that which it purports to stop. We need go no further than the War on Drugs to see this.

Deceptive Advertising and Labeling

If we examine the picture included in this blog you see Glaceau vitamin water with a label clearly reading Naturally Sweetened. We also see a wonderful reference to electrolytes which any fan of Idiocracy will appreciate. A perusal of the nutritional content on the back reveals a large amount of sugar in the drinks.

What is naturally anyway? If companies are not allowed to use the world naturally or electrolytes, they will find other deceptive words, it’s an endless cat and mouse game. That’s the problem with trying to regulate human behavior, be it through the War on Drugs or buzzwords like Organic and Naturally.

Companies will find ways around your rules.

The Goal

What we want is people to have healthier diets. If people have healthier diets, it is good for our society. Our healthcare system is largely broken. In part because of the enormous number of unhealthy people in this country. People, particularly poor people in rural areas, need the services of Doctors without Borders as if we were a Third World Country. I hesitate to use the words “as if” but I don’t want to get into that debate today.

The Solution

The manufacturer loves obfuscating the product and does so with misleading labels and advertising that comes right to the edge of legality. No matter how much we try to regulate this, companies will find a way.

I’m convinced the most helpful remedies to the problem lie with us, with the store owner. Don’t stock sweet drinks on the same shelf as unsweetened drinks is one that comes to my mind. One shelf is marked Sweetened and the other marked Unsweetened. If the store owner refuses, if the manufacturer pays extra to be on a certain shelf, there’s not much to be done, unfortunately.

I don’t think there are magical solutions to these problems but I also think individuals can focus on both informing the consumer and making the world a better place. Go to your local grocer and ask if they’ll separate the sweet drinks onto their own shelf, the worst that can happen is you’re told no.

Tom Liberman

Facebook Advertisements are the Opposite of Socialism

Facebook Advertisement

The Rage

I recently placed several Facebook advertisements for my new serial stories on Amazon and was surprised by the backlash from some who saw the ads. The general thoughts indicated to me that these folks hated that my Facebook advertisements were on their wall.

I’m quite interested in what I found when tracking back to the people expressing their rage, usually in the form of, shall we say, colorful images posted on the wall of The Adventures of Stultafor Milbegrew. Almost all of them seemed to be opponents of Socialism with a large majority supporting one particular political party.

Facebook is Capitalism

The problem, for the ragers, is that Facebook Advertisements are the embodiment of capitalism. If you want to remove all the ads then you remove all revenue. Without revenue Facebook either must go to a pay model or become a government run business that relies on tax dollars to provide you with an ad free experience.

The very people railing with those aforementioned colorful images are actually espousing against capitalism, if not outright supporting of socialism.

Why My Ads

Another area of great confusion seemed to be in the placement of Facebook advertisements on the wall of those expressing outrage. The general sentiment indicated the person complaining imagined my advertisement took up space on their wall.

The problem with this line of thought is the spot on the wall is a placeholder for an advertisement, if not mine then someone else’s. There will always be Facebook Advertisements taking up those position on your wall, on my wall, on all walls. Having said that, none of your friends see ads on your wall. Which is another common point of confusion among those who express themselves so forcefully to me.

The only way to get rid of those ads is to convince Facebook to change to a pay portal model. Or simply ask the government to take it over and run it with tax dollars.

Why Such Rage?

I find the confusion about the issue of Facebook Advertisements to be quite interesting. I suspect the complainers are not bothered by television advertisements. That thirty second spot on your favorite show will always be an advertisement, it will never contain content. It’s simply a placeholder for whichever advertiser spends funds on it.

There is something personal about my wall on Facebook. It is mine, even though at some level I think even the most vociferous complainer understands it really isn’t mine at all, but Facebook’s. That they allow me to use that space in order to sell advertising revenue.


It’s a choice you have, my friends. Either the advertisement of a little guy, that’s me, simply trying to get people to read three free serial stories and hopefully purchase more or a big company with something larger to sell.

And, seriously, the stories are short, easy to read, and funny. Try the first three for free and if you think I’m wrong, I can take criticism!

Tom Liberman

La Chingona – is it a Bad Word if you don’t Know it?

La ChingonaI read an interesting story in the news today about a specialty pizza being offered by the Pizza Patrón chain which is located primarily in Texas but in a number of other states as well. They have a new pizza covered with jalapeno infused pepperoni with more diced hot peppers on top.

I know the very idea of such a pizza will send my buddy Jeff and his daughter immediately to Texas to make a purchase.

The problem is that the chain has launched an advertising campaign calling the pizza La Chingona. What would you think of a public advertising campaign with billboards and signage in the store that offered a pizza called The Fucking Bad-Ass?

The problem is that La Chingona doesn’t literally translate so crudely. It is a slang term used primarily by younger people in Mexico to have such meaning. A literal translation is more like “Cool Girl”. Language is filled with words that can have two or more meanings even without slang definitions.

In response to this campaign a number of chain owners are refusing to put up the advertisements and number of media outlets are refusing to play the commercials.

A quick perusal of the Urban Dictionary T section gives us words and phrases related to Tea bags, a Tony Danza, Turbeville, Thomas, Thot, Tyler, two girls one cup, etc.

All these words have vulgar meaning but they are not on the list of banned words from the FCC. Thus they fit into the realm of the pizza that inspired me to write this blog.

All this fuss over a few words. In my opinion it’s perfectly reasonable for the store to use this term for their pizza. It’s perfectly reasonable for chain owners and media outlets to refuse to play or show the advertisements. If a person is offended then they shouldn’t go into the store. This is the way freedom works.

Freedom is often unpleasant. It involves allowing pizza companies to use vulgarities and allowing hate filled people to protest funerals. Freedom doesn’t involve the government suppressing everything that anyone finds unappealing. It means the opposite.

I see and hear things on a daily basis that I wouldn’t say or do myself. Things I find crude. The idea that we can “protect our children” from the horror of having to see a sign advertising the Fucking Bad-Ass pizza is not realistic. The world is a crude and disgusting place. The best we can do is explain that those who behave in a crude fashion, will be treated as if they are so.

When we try to rid the world of all that is crude we also attack the cause of freedom.

I accept La Chingona. I accept Fred Phelps. I accept but I do not condone. If you like freedom then you have to show some personal responsibility when you see things you don’t like. It’s the price we pay.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Coming Soon: The Broken Throne

Fellatio, Homosexual Couples, SodaStream, and the Super Bowl

Fellatio InnuendoI wrote earlier last week that Fox Network refused to air an advertisement from a company that sells soda making equipment because it referenced rivals Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

They didn’t give any explanation as to why they refused to air the ad but the assumption is that they didn’t want to offend two of their largest sponsors; Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Certainly both of those companies mention each other in advertisement and significantly more negatively than the Soda Stream ad mentions them.

However, Soda Stream is a small company that doesn’t spend millions of dollars on advertisement on many other shows; therefore Fox made their decision. Offending Soda Stream will not cost Fox potentially huge amounts of revenue. I explained in the first article why I thought Fox had the right to advertise what they wanted but that this forced alteration smacked of censorship and was certainly an example of the Crony Capitalism that is subverting the economic principles of our country.

That is not the focus of today’s blog. Today I want to talk about how it is apparently perfectly acceptable for an advertisement to state pretty openly that a man wants oral sex from the woman next to him. That it’s completely all right to have a homosexual couple in an advertisement. That a halftime show can be filled with sexually suggestive songs and dances (this year was largely bereft of such displays but I’m talking more generally). There can even be wardrobe malfunctions that are intentionally planned to expose a woman’s breast.

Personally I don’t have a problem with any of these things. I’m actually rather fond of women’s breasts. I’m not opposed to fellatio from an attractive woman, and I don’t have a problem with a homosexual couple. Let’s face reality; some people will have problems with all of these things. I have a problem with commercials where couples (gay or straight) are sticking tongues down each other’s throats. There are always going to be some things, that someone, somewhere, will find objectionable.

The question I want to explore is the remedy to this problem. The people who find these things objectionable now go to our government, namely the FCC, to try to get that agency to penalize those who create and display the content.

I don’t doubt that the FCC will see a litany of complaints this morning. To me this is the heart of the problem. We look to the government to redress grievances over which they should have no jurisdiction. You don’t like seeing a man ask a woman for oral sex and the woman apparently relishing the idea? Then organize a few friends and boycott the network or the product. It’s easy today with the internet to find like-minded people. If enough of you make a fuss, there will be changes.

If you don’t like seeing homosexual couples on your television during the Super Bowl but the majority of people have decided that it’s ok to show them? Well, don’t watch the Super Bowl.

If a friend makes a very sweet comment about breastfeeding her newborn son and that offends you, then tell your friend. If you think it’s sweet then Like the post. The internet is the age of the individual. It is a Libertarian’s dream world.

Take charge of your life and don’t look to the government to do it for you. If you empower the government to ban things, don’t be surprised when they ban something you like. Power to the people! Better yet, power to me!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

The Plus Size Barbie – Truth in Advertising

plus size barbie

Not too long ago my friend shared an article on Facebook about Truth in Advertising. A professional photographer took images of fast food in advertising and compared them to pictures he staged with items recently purchased from the same vendor.

I just read about the controversy over plus-size Barbie dolls which erupted after a plus-size modeling website posted an image of a rather large Barbie. The controversy is that the picture in question has not an average size Barbie but an obese Barbie. This has outraged some people who now demand average Barbie.

After I read the first article posted by my friend, I went to Wikipedia and looked up the legal definition of False Advertising and found it to be slippery. The Barbie situation isn’t false advertising so much as it is giving young women unrealistic body expectations or, in the recent case, telling young women that being morbidly obese is just fine and dandy. Both of which are bad things.

While the two examples I’ve cited are certainly not completely comparable; I do think there is an interesting correlation between them. Both the fast food hamburger and the super-slim Barbie are unrealistic. No one expects to get fast food that looks like the image in the ad and no woman (except her) looks like Barbie.

The question that has been percolating in my mind since that first Facebook share is what should the government’s role in all of this be? I’m convinced that there should be legal ramifications for False Advertising. This is something that should be a crime and is potential dangerous. Medicine sold under false pretenses comes immediately to mind but any safety device that doesn’t work as advertised is clearly a danger.

That being noted, I’m sure that a taco that looks nothing like the picture on the menu isn’t particularly dangerous and the consumer can easily avoid the store after one such experience. The damages amount to a minor financial loss. I don’t think the government needs to be involved here, people can figure it out for themselves without facing serious hazards.

Likewise, I’m not convinced that the government should be in the business of promoting what the ideal woman, or man, should look like.

Yes, that taco is nothing like the picture. Yes, that Barbie does give girls an unrealistic body image. No, it’s not the government’s job to protect us when we are perfectly capable of protecting ourselves.

The Libertarian ideal is often counter-intuitive. If we force people to look at the food and make their own decisions on its appeal, if we educate young people about eating healthy, if we make people aware of realistic body expectations and how to eat and exercise to attain such a look, if we teach people to beware in a dangerous world; then we make the world a safer place, far safer than when we try to legislate such outcomes.

An oversimplification would be the example of keeping a child in a cave to protect them from the world outside. We suppose that we are doing good but we are doing real harm. The child will be overwhelmed once they leave that safe environment.

The government has an important role in society. But it isn’t to protect from all ills that might befall us.

Tom Liberman