I am increasingly drawn to the conclusion that the main purpose of celebrity these days is to sell or promote consumer goods to us. Not a day goes by without some new advertising campaign kicking off, and some bright and bushy tailed celebrity trying to convince us that our lives will not be fulfilled unless we buy this or that ‘amazing’ product.
The fitness industry is certainly not immune to this and there appears to have been a marked increase in the use of celebrities to promote supplements and other fitness products.
Now this is not a new phenomenon. You only have to think back to Jane Fonda and countless other minor celebrity women promoting their own workout videos, none of them ever designed by them, to see that this trend has been occurring for quite a while.
Of course, there are many charlatans in the fitness industry who are more than happy to take your money in exchange for largely overpriced and worthless products, and here I will present a couple of examples.
It is also quite clear that there are many celebrities who are quite happy to go along with these charades, although in one of the examples I discuss below it is clearly because she is deranged.
The first example I present to you is Gwyneth Paltrow. Now Gwyneth, currently being hailed as a food writer, has been causing quite a stir for a while now in the world of nutrition with her shall we say colourful ideas on health and wellbeing.
An advocate of detoxing, colon cleansing and vaginal steaming, none of which have any evidence of positive effect, also rarely or never eats dairy, sugar, gluten or soy. There are those who are intolerant to some of these types of foodstuffs, but Gwyneth appears to just have chosen not to eat them, because these are deemed by the “food police” to be bad for us.
Gwyneth has also long been a fan of Moon Juice who produce products like beauty milk and spirit truffles. This tells you all you need to know about them. Companies who invoke the ‘spiritual’ or ‘mystical’ should immediately start the bullshit alarm bells ringing. For ‘spiritual’ or ‘mystical’ read no evidence whatsoever.
Gwyneth has now set up her own supplement company Goop, and some of the products are discussed in the article below by a dietician.
Needless to say, that Goop fit into the overpriced, worthless product category. Of course, the marketing is key here. Lots of people want to live the fantasy of being or looking like their favourite celebrities and some think eating and drinking these types of product will somehow work magic and give them the same type of body.
Of course, it’s nonsense.
Goop mainly sell vitamin supplements with wacky names that Gwyneth thinks chime with modern day living.
So, there’s Why Am I So Effing Tired which packs a high dose of B vitamins and promises to “re-balance” an overtaxed system. Balls in the Air contains broccoli extract and antioxidants like beta-carotene, hard-to-absorb glutathione and vitamins C. And then there’s High School Genes, which is said to be a metabolism booster with free radical busters, omega-3 fats and decaffeinated green tea.
Now not all these ingredients are ineffective or anywhere close to being dangerous, but supplementing with most of them if you are anywhere approaching a half-decent diet, is largely unnecessary.
A great example is the broccoli extract contained in one of her supplements. You could for a fraction of the price just eat broccoli, and get many of the other benefits of eating the whole vegetable and not just it’s extract.
As is the case with most supplements especially those containing water soluble vitamins, and especially when you are paying the exorbitant prices Goop charge, is that you just end up with expensive pee, because most of the time they just pass right through you.
The second more insidious use of celebrity endorsement is used by the likes of Herbalife, when they use sports stars to promote their products hoping that their credibility in the sporting world will give that same company’s products credibility.
In the past Herbalife have used probably the two most famous footballers in the world Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as their poster boys to promote their sports supplements.
Of course, the marketing suggests that firstly, their teams use their products on a regular basis, and secondly, these products somehow contribute to a large part of their success. The reality is that I have no idea if they actually took Herbalife products, but I do know that the supplements that Herbalife produce will contribute very little to their athletic performance.
Herbalife representatives have continually used the argument that if famous sports stars use their supplements then that must mean they are good.
It should be noted that the vast majority of athletes have little to no knowledge or understanding of nutrition and therefore, their endorsement is frankly worthless.
For me, the increasing use of celebrities to sell products is an insidious development. In a time when we need clearer and more accurate information about food and nutrition, using celebrity does not add anything to the debate. It merely sidesteps the issues to sell you the dream of a celebrity lifestyle.
Be sensible, save the money you could spend on expensive and largely ineffective supplements, and instead spend the money on good quality food.