Dude note: To help celebrate and promote Celiac Awareness Month, I will be writing 30 blog posts over 30 consecutive days (weekends excluded) with the theme “30 Days of Helping 30 Celiacs”. Each post will be aimed toward helping one specific person or group of people. If you or someone you know needs help, guidance, advice or a shoulder to cry on, please contact me and I will do what I can to help. On the 31st day, you’re on your own. Totally kidding.
Today’s 30 for 30 blog post is for: All marketing people who think they’re being clever by using gluten-free in their ad campaigns.
There have been a string of ad campaigns using gluten-free as a joke. Because…you know…disease is always funny. The latest one is Ford, who is promoting their Fiesta as “Great MPG AND gluten-free”. Yeah…I don’t get it either.
Anyway, I’m here to help. That’s what my 30for30 campaign is all about…to help people. So here is an open letter to all marketing people. Please take my advice to heart so you can stop pissing off 7% of your audience.
Dear Marketing Person,
I know you’ve got it tough. You’re under loads of pressure to come up with the next “Where’s the beef?” or “Just do it”. I empathize with your plight.
But the next time somebody in your creative meeting suggests you use the term “gluten-free” as part of your ad campaign, please think twice before saying yes.
Did you know that almost 1% of the population has celiac disease? Gluten absolutely destroys their bodies.
Did you know another estimated 6% suffers from gluten sensitivity and gluten wreaks havoc on them too?
So right there, that’s 7% of your audience that you are offending. Since when is that effective marketing?
Perhaps you’re thinking we need to lighten up…that it’s just a joke.
Well let me share a few emails I received recently and you tell me if it’s still funny.
“I’m having trouble getting my husband to understand just how much my celiac disease affects my life. He believes that I just make up symptoms to get out of going places with him such as parties, friends’ homes, or simply out to dinner. Even though I have been gluten free for five years now I still experience symptoms on a regular basis. He has no idea how bad it stinks to have to schedule your day around trips to the bathroom and debilitating stomach pain. I am starting to resent him…a lot. Any ideas on how I can make him understand that I am in real pain and this is a real disease?”
Now why would the husband not give full credence to her celiac disease? Perhaps it’s simply because he’s a jerk wad. But perhaps it’s because of ad campaigns like yours that perpetuate the gluten-free fad diet.
Here’s another email…
“I am newly diagnosed (1 month) with celiac disease. I ran into a person who made me feel like this gluten-free thing is a fad or not serious. I felt like I had to justify the legitimacy and seriousness of it.”
Can you imagine having to justify the legitimacy of an autoimmune disease? It sucks. And you are making it suckier.
And someone just this morning posted the following on my Facebook page:
“I just spoke with a gentleman who is upper level management of one of the biggest agricultural seed companies in the world. He told me that he doesnt believe celiac disease is a real disease. In fact he believes that those of us following a wheat free diet are in a cult.”
A cult. Now where would he get that idea from?
And let’s finish off with one more email…
“I’m 13 years old and I was diagnosed with celiac a little under 2 years ago. I’ve never fully recovered despite being strictly GF and so many things are just crashing down on me. I just want to be freaking normal. A normal teen with a normal life.”
Being a celiac is tough enough. When you’re not taken seriously, it makes it that much worse.
So please…help this 13 year old girl and help us all. Leave gluten-free out of your ad campaigns now and forever.
P.S. This was just sent to me. It was in the New Yorker magazine. Yep…that’s us…annoying people trying to stay alive. Silly us.