Special K’s Marketing and Body Image

“93% of women fat talk,” Immediately, my attention is caught by the emphatic voice on the video. The narration continues. “We believe that is a barrier to shopping for clothes.”


Special K cereal put out this commercial last December. The idea of helping women to love their bodies and not fat talk is wonderful. Similar to Dove’s marketing, this message is refreshing and uplifting. In the midst of being bombarded by magazine racks filled with toothpick models and bolded headlines about weight loss, I relax for a moment to relish in a company affirming its consumers.

However, there is a major problem with Special K’s overall message. While promoting women feeling confident and beautiful, this company also wants its target audience to buy its products and follow its diet plan for weight loss. This motivation makes ads about positive body image seem hypocritical.

Take another one of this cereal brand’s commercials.Here a little girl tries unsuccessfully to sell a woman eating Special K a doughnut. At the end, will power helps her to shut the door in the child’s face. Yes, over-eating is a problem, but looking at restricting food or eliminating types of nourishment is not usually a wise idea.

Most disturbing is the brands tagline: “What will you gain when you lose?” How does this help women to feel more confident about themselves? Watching these ads only adds to my shame and confusion surrounding food. Am I supposed to feel beautiful in my unique body or diet to lose weight and then feel gorgeous? What would I gain if I followed the Special K meal plan like the advertising encourages?

This double message is a problem for brands who promote confidence with implying that their product is needed. Remedying this is difficult. Honesty and vulnerability are feelings that most companies shy away from and fear. However, if Special K is willing to promote true confidence by changing their tagline and not sending out mixed messages, then this company could be novel in the food industry.


4 thoughts on “Special K’s Marketing and Body Image

  1. mewhoami says:

    The first commercial itself is great. I love the message behind it, especially since I too am a “fat talker”. At 125, logically I know that I’m not, but my mind is quick to convince me otherwise. It’s so frustrating. You’d think people would grow out of that, but at 33 I still battle with that little demon in my head.

    You are right about the hypocrisy though. How can they tell people to be happy with their bodies and then turn right around and promote a diet. Which is it? Be happy with our weight or lose it? I agree, that if they would just stick to the body image part of it, they would have a gold mine.

  2. rheasofhope says:

    I feel the same way about Special K. They are attempting to promote loving yourself at any size, reducing fat talk, and whatever else they feel will garner them more customers. However, simultaneously, they are attempting to sell women diet food; encouraging them to lose weight to feel good about themselves. I also hate that commercial with the door-to-door doughnut selling child for many of the same reasons you stated. But also because their “diet” is to replace two meals a day with their cereal. In what word is replacing two healthful, balanced meals with two bowls of cereal realistic? If they truly wanted women to be happy and healthy they should seriously reconsider their marketing campaigns. There is nothing healthy about this two-faced marketing scheme, and I’m not falling for it.

    • You are so correct. That is not a healthy way to eat, and it is sad that they feel the need to tell women to lose weight to be more confident (which was another of their ads).

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