Friday, 21 February 2014

Food samples and brand promotions

Sometimes food and drink is given away at train stations in Melbourne. Mostly, it's a way for companies to promote new products. Usually the products they are throwing at the public are sugar laden and therefore not anything I eat.

Yesterday, frozen pizzas were being handed out. It was fascinating to watch.

Very good looking people dressed in either very revealing clothing or something suggestive of scientific - or a combination of these (think very short lab coats) - smile at people and call out the brand name repeatedly. Before long, commuters are making their way to these very good looking people and clamouring for whatever is on offer.

If standing and watching this procedure was my first glimpse of Melbourne I would have thought that people who live here are reliant on UN food parcels for survival. It was like a flock of seagulls descending on a lonely dropped chip. No orderly queues to be seen here, just people on automatic pilot, lured by the promise of free fat and sugar, forgetting that it's actually advertising and a ploy to secure their money and loyalty down the track.

I wondered whether any homeless people would benefit from this commercial magnanimity but then realised the cruel twist of fate attached: frozen pizza is only edible if you can heat it in an oven first.

As I walked away, I saw a man wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "i Rock" emblazoned on his chest. Looking at him, I was unconvinced that he did in fact rock, but then looks can be deceiving. I wondered whether it was his looks he was railing against; that he'd had so many accusations that he did not rock, that he had hired a PR consultant and gone on the front foot with a declaration of his rockiness. Or perhaps he was trying to convince himself. Or, he was being completely ironic. Or he was making up for a lack of positive reinforcement from his parents during his adolescence. Or it might have been a statement of competency in his day job as a babysitter. Or he's a narcissist.

It struck me that the whole world is busy with image management.

I travelled home, without a frozen pizza melting in my handbag, and thought about the pleasure of making good food.

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