'Last Supper' paintings over time reveal a lot about portion size

Posted on Tue Mar 23 2010


Turns out McDonald's wasn't the first to super-size meals. Artists have been doing it for a millennium in one of the most notable portraits in history. There's a report out today from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, N.Y., which examined 52 famous renderings of the The Last Supper, with surprising results about portion control—or lack thereof. The study found that between the years 1000 and 2000, the main-course size in the artists' work increased by 69 percent, plate size by 66 percent and loaves of bread by 23 percent. There could be a simple explanation, in that food became more plentiful and less expensive over time. Reflecting that in art would've made sense. But the results are being published in April's International Journal of Obesity, so obviously they're trying to tell us something about the sorry state of our waistlines and the role that heaping helpings of food plays in that. Still, I don't see any chips, soda or candy in that meal or any overweight apostles. Not to get too biblical, but maybe we could learn a lesson or two from the loaves and fishes. In moderation, of course.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Scientology releases new ad campaign, promises to fix your life

Posted on Mon Jun 22 2009

Just trying to get in a little food porn, that's all, when up pops a slick-looking commercial with a soothing, all-knowing voiceover. Is this a chick-targeted Nike ad, or yet another suggestion that I talk to my doctor about a happy pill that might be right for me? A minute ago, I was watching Chef Duff whip up a cake in the shape of the Taj Mahal, and now I'm being confronted with Big Life Issues like "Who am I?" and "What's my truth?" If I wanted to ponder the existential, I wouldn't be watching Ace of Cakes. I'd switch over to The Real Housewives. But I digress. The source of my confusion? Ads for the Church of Scientology that are airing now on the Food Network and three dozen other cable channels. (See one spot embedded here, and a couple more here). Make of them what you will—creepy, yeah?—but I think the recession-era timing of these ads is no accident. Could they help the science-fiction-based "religion" gain some ground as people grapple with the trashed economy and the soul searching that it's triggered? According to Wired, the TV ads are part of a larger campaign that covers cable, satellite dish networks, news sites and—shocker!—Wired.com. Response to the ads so far has been mostly, "WTF?" And those are the kinder Tweets. Decide for yourselves, and I'll try to hold onto what's left of my sugar high.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Passover products (human and canine) doing brisk business

Posted on Thu Apr 9 2009

Kosher-coke copy

Passover is not only a weeklong holiday commemorating the Jewish exodus from Egypt. It's also a marketing bonanza. Who knew?
  The folks at Coca-Cola and the Evanger's Dog and Cat Food Co. are doing brisk business with, respectively, Kosher for Passover Coke and pet food that strips out all grains, a no-no in kosher households during the spring holiday that starts today. The two-liter bottles of Coke, sold only once a year, are sweetened with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, and a rabbi supervises production. Reports have the soft drinks "flying out of the store," snapped up by non-Jewish fans, too. Pepsi also has a kosher version, and foodie blogs are abuzz with where to find the sugared sodas.
  To promote its products, Evanger's is sponsoring a Seder on Saturday at a Chicago pet store called Wigglyville, where dogs are likely to show up in yarmulkes and prayer shawls (yes, canine versions do exist). Sacrilegious? Any more so than the increasingly popular bark mitzvahs? The outreach seems to be working: Evanger's, available year-round, with sales topping $10 million annually, sees a healthy bump in its bottom line around Passover—a 20 percent increase at its New York City retailers alone. Not too shabby.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

What is Google trying to say with its tribute to Charles Darwin?

Posted on Thu Feb 12 2009


As the millions of people who visit its homepage daily know, Google often tweaks its famous logo to celebrate various holidays, from the expected (New Year's Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day) to the obscure (Jackson Pollack's birthday). The common thread is that all are relatively free of controversy. But today's Google.com tribute to Charles Darwin's 200th birthday is being interpreted as a philosophical statement of sorts. Does the company, whose motto is "Do no evil," actually subscribe to atheism? At least one Christian blogger believes the search engine may be "denying Genesis 1:1." An atheist blogger, meanwhile, finds reason to rejoice and muse that fundamentalist Christians may be switching to Yahoo! "for the day."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Pastors to spread the good word about the switch to digital TV

Posted on Wed Feb 11 2009

Retro-TV copy

It worked for Tyler Perry and The Passion of the Christ, but can it help the feds?
  Pastors in the Los Angeles area are being recruited to spread a marketing message, but it's not for a faith-based movie or TV show. (That's Hollywood's playbook). It's about the broadcasters' government-mandated switch from analog to digital TV. Why use the pulpit? Because churches might be able to accomplish what the FCC and its public-service campaign (from Ketchum) haven't. That is, to convince people who still use rabbit ears that they'll have to go digital or be left with only a few choices—snow, snow or snow—on their dial. (They'll have to subscribe to cable or satellite, get a digital converter box or a new TV). The government ads have been running for more than a year on radio, TV and billboards, but Congress just delayed digital conversion until June because people apparently still aren't prepared for it. FCC officials are on a sweep of major cities to further press the point, and asked for the divine intervention in L.A., which has the largest number of analog-TV households in the country. Mostly, those old TV sets are in minority, immigrant and elderly communities.
  Clergy members seem to be on board. After all, they wouldn't want the flock to lose their Hour of Power.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Bart Simpson under fire for sudden endorsement of Scientology

Posted on Thu Jan 29 2009

Bart Simpson has been known to shill for the likes of Burger King, Butterfinger, 7-Eleven and JetBlue. But Scientology?
  Word's out in Hollywood that Nancy Cartwright, the actress who voices Bart, and who, along with the rest of the cast, negotiated a new $400,000-per-episode Simpsons deal for herself a few months back, spoke like the famous animated character as part of a Scientology promotion.
  Cartwright, a member of that controversial pseudo-church, recorded a phone message to promote an upcoming Scientology event in Los Angeles. While she identified herself by name, she used Bart's voice in a few places, according to The Live Feed, a Hollywood Reporter blog.
  It's caused quite a kerfuffle, with Simpsons property owner Fox investigating the use of its trademark and the show's execs distancing themselves from the implied endorsement.
  Maybe it's time to have a cow. Anyway, we've always thought of Bart as an agnostic.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

How the U.K. learned to stop worrying and love the atheism ads

Posted on Wed Jan 7 2009


Who needs a Popemobile? Not the atheists.
  The British Humanist Association prefers buses and subways. And now, the pro-atheism group has finally launched that mass-transit ad campaign in England, Scotland and Wales that it's been promising since October.
  The buses feature the now-familiar slogan, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." But the campaign also goes underground with these four subway ads, featuring quotes from Albert Einstein, Douglas Adams, Emily Dickinson and Katherine Hepburn. Adams's quote is the probably best of the bunch: "Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"
  The BHA raised £140,000 for the campaign, per the BBC. No word on how much of that was spent on these atheist holiday cards.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein



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