A nice person called Alice emailed us some questions for a big
piece of research she's doing. I get quite nervous when people ask
us for our considered thoughts because you have to give clever
answers and sound like an expert. But I thought that I would post
the answers I gave in the hope that 1) it might start some debate,
and 2) maybe you can supply me with some better answers so that she
doesn't think we're dumb.
The questions are about our attitudes towards health and our
bodies. All comments gratefully accepted.
When we eat, we put things that are not-us into us - its a
moment of transformation when what isn't-me becomes what is-me via
consumption. I think that to trust a brand enough to eat it is an
amazing thing. Why do you think people want to put Innocent drinks
into their bodies, and how did you persuade them to do it in the
I think that people like putting our drinks into their bodies
because they’re simple (the drinks, not the people). Finding the
best fruit and squashing it into a bottle is a concept that a three
year old can understand. That level of simplicity is really
important in a complicated world full of duplicity and Bluetooth
As for persuading people, I think we just kept repeating our
very simple message. If you say something enough, people will
eventually remember what it is that you’re trying to communicate.
And saying it in a straightforward and natural way helps too.
What would you say that you found out about modern relationships
with the body through making Innocent drinks? What do you think
characterises our relationship with our bodies today in the west
and how do you think this has changed?
People are confused. They buy organic gin because they think it
might be good for them. There are so many messages being chucked at
us, and so much stuff to remember, that even those with the best
intentions often cock things up – they get confused about whether
they should eat mashed potatoes or not because a lady on the TV
said that they had the wrong sort of score on the GI Index etc etc.
Too much information.
But I guess that on the whole we are getting a bit better at
understanding what we should and shouldn't put into our bodies,
even if we don’t always actually do it. If I compare things with
when I was a kid (lots of fried stuff, lots of chips, lots of Top
Deck shandy), the world has definitely changed, or at least my
small part of it has.
In your experience at Innocent, what have you learnt about
health? What does health mean to people today, and what do you
think about this?
The thing we like best is everyday health. Lazy health. There is
a way to live your life that doesn’t involve getting up at 5am to
go to the gym and having a macrobiotic bulgar wheat shake for
lunch. A little bit of what you fancy doesn’t do you any harm, as
long as you go for a nice long walk in the park afterwards.
Some people take it all a bit too seriously, and they forget to
have fun in between their doses of health. They need to get
How would you define beauty today - what is the modern
definition of beauty/ being beautiful?
Wow. Difficult question. To me, beauty is being natural. Nature
is the most beautiful thing – everything I like most in the world
is a natural object. For example, right now I am mildly obsessed
with the buds on the geraniums that are sitting on the window ledge
in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong – I think that man has made
some very beautiful stuff, but Nature wins hands down every
So I would say that being natural is my modern definition of
I know you like fruit. It seems to me that the fruit we eat
has changed a great deal in the last decade - there are now so many
different fruits, and the way they look and are presented has
changed. Are there any analogies or parallels between fruit in
contemporary society and culture and the body?
I think we just generally have a lot more stuff in our world.
Fruit, shoes, sauces for chicken, TV channels, people – the world
is approaching a point where we’ll run out of names for all of
the new stuff. So maybe we’re approaching a point of reduction,
where we’ll start having less, and where less choice is a good
thing because we’ll have got rid of all of the banal, harmful
options. Or maybe not. To be honest, I haven’t really thought
this one through. Perhaps I should just stick to fruit.
How are our expectations, aspirations and perceptions
regarding our body evolving? Where do you see them going in the
Sadly, there is still an obsession with surface over substance.
It’s weird that it still pervades, but I guess it’s hard-coded
in us – men are attracted to a certain type of woman, and vice
versa. It’s locked in our genes somewhere. It would be nice to
say that we’re approaching an era in history where people don’t
have to all have to aspire to some unattainable form of beauty/body
shape, but I don’t really see it happening at the moment. And
this (sex, reproduction, attraction) is pretty much at the nub of
our attitudes towards our bodies.
How are developments in the arts, science, medicine,
technology, education, government etc influencing this
This question is too big to answer intelligently without writing
a book. I’ll skip this one.
How is the role of the individual within society shaping
And this one.
Where do you see brands and design playing a role amongst
all this? What are some good and bad examples of how branding and
design seek (or fail) to connect to our relationship with our body.
I think that a good example is the Dove adverts about beautiful
armpits on the tube at the moment. Another example is the SUV,
which is so popular because people want to protect and shield their
highly individualised bodies from other people, and pretty much
anything that isn't them, including society and community.
I have tried to think of some clever answers and have come up
with stuff that is boring; stuff that is obvious; stuff that I’m
supposed to say. Like how Apple make products that use (human)
nature to inform design, rather than being obsessed with
functionality. And how this makes their products and their
operating system much better. But other people will be able to
articulate this clever branding/design stuff better than me.
So, I think that the people who are having the most success at
helping us to connect to our relationship with our body are the
people without brands – all of the people who grow their own veg
or sell it at the market on a Sunday morning. The people opening
little farm shops and those who consciously choose to stay local.
The families who are generating their own power via wind turbines
and solar panels, and perhaps getting rid of one of the two cars
outside on the pavement, or buying bikes or choosing to go on
holiday in the UK this year. If more people do this, maybe we won't
screw the environment quite as badly as we seem to be doing. Then
maybe we won't have to grow gills or scaly skin to deal with the
increase in sea level/sunlight that our careless ways seem to be
encouraging. Maybe we can just keep our bodies looking human and
pink and a bit wobbly. That would be nice.
If you have any thoughts or can improve on our answers, post
your comments like you just don't care. Thanks.