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JMIR Public Health Surveill ; 7(3): e25202, 2021 03 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2197886


BACKGROUND: Emerging evidence demonstrates that obesity is associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Excessive alcohol consumption and "comfort eating" as coping mechanisms during times of high stress have been shown to further exacerbate mental and physical ill-health. Global examples suggest that unhealthy food and alcohol brands and companies are using the COVID-19 pandemic to further market their products. However, there has been no systematic, in-depth analysis of how "Big Food" and "Big Alcohol" are capitalizing on the COVID-19 pandemic to market their products and brands. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to quantify the extent and nature of online marketing by alcohol and unhealthy food and beverage companies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. METHODS: We conducted a content analysis of all COVID-19-related social media posts made by leading alcohol and unhealthy food and beverage brands (n=42) and their parent companies (n=12) over a 4-month period (February to May 2020) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. RESULTS: Nearly 80% of included brands and all parent companies posted content related to COVID-19 during the 4-month period. Quick service restaurants (QSRs), food and alcohol delivery companies, alcohol brands, and bottle shops were the most active in posting COVID-19-related content. The most common themes for COVID-19-related marketing were isolation activities and community support. Promotion of hygiene and home delivery was also common, particularly for QSRs and alcohol and food delivery companies. Parent companies were more likely to post about corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, such as donations of money and products, and to offer health advice. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to show that Big Food and Big Alcohol are incessantly marketing their products and brands on social media platforms using themes related to COVID-19, such as isolation activities and community support. Parent companies are frequently posting about CSR initiatives, such as donations of money and products, thereby creating a fertile environment to loosen current regulation or resist further industry regulation. "COVID-washing" by large alcohol brands, food and beverage brands, and their parent companies is both common and concerning. The need for comprehensive regulations to restrict unhealthy food and alcohol marketing, as recommended by the World Health Organization, is particularly acute in the COVID-19 context and is urgently required to "build back better" in a post-COVID-19 world.

COVID-19 , Food Industry , Marketing/methods , Marketing/statistics & numerical data , Social Media/statistics & numerical data , Alcoholic Beverages/statistics & numerical data , Australia/epidemiology , Food/statistics & numerical data , Humans
Addiction Research & Theory ; : 1-6, 2022.
Article in English | Academic Search Complete | ID: covidwho-2051037


The purposive design, production and marketing of legal but health-demoting products that stimulate habitual consumption and pleasure for maximum profit has been called ‘limbic capitalism’. In this article, drawing on alcohol and tobacco as key examples, we extend this framework into the digital realm. We argue that ‘limbic platform capitalism’ is a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and populations. Accessed routinely through everyday digital devices, social media platforms aggressively intensify limbic capitalism because they also work through embodied limbic processes. These platforms are designed to generate, analyse and apply vast amounts of personalised data in an effort to tune flows of online content to capture users’ time and attention, and influence their affects, moods, emotions and desires in order to increase profits. Social media are central to young people’s socialising, identities, leisure practices and engagement in civic life. Young people actively appropriate social media for their own ends but are simultaneously recruited as consumers who are specifically targeted by producers of limbic products and services. Social media platforms have seen large increases in users and traffic through the COVID-19 pandemic and limbic capitalism has worked to intensify marketing that is context, time and place specific, driving online purchases and deliveries of limbic products. This has public health implications that require immediate attention as existing regulatory frameworks are woefully inadequate in this era of data-driven, algorithmic marketing. [ FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Addiction Research & Theory is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full . (Copyright applies to all s.)