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Nothing in this post should be construed as incisive social commentary

March 27, 2011

This was one of a series of adverts which I spotted around the tube towards the end of last year. There was another food-related one along the lines of, ‘Something happens in the commodities market that this blogger doesn’t fully understand. But it  involves coffee prices prices going up. Do you a) sigh and start drinking tea, or b) make a killing by doing whatever-the-clever-thing-to-do-with-your-money-in-that-situation-is?’

Yup, folks. It’s that simple. You just have to choose, you see. Either, you are an active, go-getting, financial wizard who chooses to invest in the right things. Or, you lack the entrepreneurial nouse for this and just have to lump it. Put another way, if you don’t make oodles of money on the financial markets, this is entirely your fault. For making bad choices. Don’t have enough money to move out of your mould-ridden flat with a hole in the ceiling, let alone invest on the commodities market? Tough. Don’t have enough savings to risk losing them and prefer keeping them somewhere with less risk and lower returns? Your choice. Spent all your savings on an MA so you could learn about how food speculation causes food prices to rise, which pushes people further into poverty and makes them go hungry? Ooooooooops.

Because that seems to me to be what these adverts are saying. IMPORTANT STUFF HAPPENS IN FINANCIAL MARKETS!!! Either a) it is something that happens to you (you ‘expect’ coleslaw, you don’t order it), or b) it is something you do (you ‘go’ long). Either a) you are poor and maybe eat a lot of fried chicken,* or b) you make a lot of money by doing clever things with your money. But either way, it’s YOUR CHOICE. You choose a) or b), whether to be a passive victim of circumstances or whether to turn them to your advantage. And there’s no need to worry about the fact that by choosing to invest in food commodities, you might inadvertently be contributing to a system that screws over people who don’t have the ability to make that choice, however resourceful they may be. Because by framing it as a choice, it conveniently makes it look as though it’s their fault. And like you were doing the only logical thing by participating in this highly questionable financial speculation. Or that your choice was entirely down to you being a smart individual, not someone who’s angry because your pension is rubbish and your children are going to have to pay £9,000 a year tuition fees and you chose this out of the several imperfect, constrained options available to you.

Also, I can’t imagine an advert saying this:

Downbeat corn report puts commodities in the spotlight. Do you:

  1. Sigh, and sell the last of your dwindling cattle herd so you can buy grain?
  2. Go long on wheat and follow the trend?

Or this:

Downbeat corn report puts commodities in the spotlight. Do you:

  1. Sigh, and pull your daughter out of school so you can buy grain?
  2. Go long on wheat and follow the trend?

How come that’s wrong, but it’s okay to make comments about people who eat fried chicken?

Incidentally, there’s a little note at the end of the small print which states, ‘Nothing in this advert should be construed as investment advice.’ Thanks. That’s comforting.


* Re which, we reserve the right to also lambast you for your poor dietary CHOICES, because you clearly just do not have the necessary entrepreneurial, go-getting spirit to choose to live somewhere that is not a food desert, or choose a job that pays enough for you to buy decent food/doesn’t have horrible hours/doesn’t leave you too exhausted to cook.

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