Makes Me Whole


A reader sent in this image. At first, I didn't blink -- it looked like an ad for rosé. But on second glance, I noticed the hashtag: #MakesMeWhole. That's why I'm sharing and writing about it today.

Look, we get that some people drink, so we're not going to examine every single ad for alcohol. But this one is going to get called out because of the hashtag. Makes me whole?

Let's unpack. WholeFoods runs a social campaign with the tagline "Whatever Makes You Whole." They share photos and ask for user generated photos. There are some beautiful photos on their site and found through this hashtag. Lovely, life-giving foods.

And then there's this image from a store.

It seems innocuous enough, right? It's just a hashtag on a photo of a glass of wine. However, did anyone in their marketing group, be it internal or agency/partners, consider the ramifications of using a tagline like this in associated with wine? Did they think about what the implications could be in creating ad that says a drug makes someone "whole"?

We know: this is where people get freaked out and say we're judging drinkers. It's not about that.

It's about the messages that we share around alcohol. And that a company that values health and wellness didn't blink an eye at putting this message in their stores. That's what we're talking about.

When I was still drinking and feeling like crap because of it, I'd go to Whole Foods and convince myself that I didn't have a "problem" because wasn't it normal to feel bad? Wasn't alcohol part of a "whole" life? Maybe if the wines were local and carefully sourced and paired with expensive cheeses it wasn't so bad. But it was. So, Whole Foods, our message to you today, is to really think. 

And when you do, think about the millions of Americans who are struggling today with the exact same issues. About the women who are in your precise target demographic and for whom drinking is an increasing public health issue.

Think about the women who have fought to find their wholeness despite an onslaught of messages like this.

Think about the customers who spend thousands of dollars on Soul Cycle lessons and green juice, but can't see that this liquid in the lovely pink bottle is gradually or steadily chipping away at their health. 

Think about the dissonance.

It's tricky. We know. But we're here -- all of us. We'll buy your kale, we'll buy your artisanal soaps, we'll buy your whole grains and your avocados. But we're not buying this. 

Erin Street