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2014/2015  KAN-CMLMV1060U  Spin or fair speak - when foods talk

English Title
Spin or fair speak - when foods talk

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 25
Max. participants 45
Study board
Study Board for MA in International Business Communication
Course coordinator
  • Jesper Clement - Department of Marketing (Marketing)
  • Peter Møgelvang-Hansen - Law Department (LAW)
  • Viktor Smith - Department of International Business Communication (IBC)
Viktor Smith - vs.ibc@cbs.dk
Secretary Tine Silfvander ts.iadh@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • Business Law
  • Business psychology
  • Business Ethics, value based management and CSR
  • Globalization, International Business, markets and studies
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Communication
  • Marketing
  • Political leadership, public management and international politics
  • Language and Intercultural Studies
Last updated on 18-11-2014
Learning objectives
The students should be able to:
  • Formulate a set of clear-cut research questions relative to self-identified real-life examples of fairness challenges connected with particular food naming and labelling solutions.
  • Apply key concepts and methods presented during the course to analyze such examples (cases) with a view to both communicative, commercial and legal perspectives.
  • Suggest specific adjustments of the design solutions analyzed which may enhance communicative clarity and fairness.
Course prerequisites
The elective is open to students from all Master Programmes at CBS and to guest students at CBS. The course language is English. The course may be particularly relevant for students specializing within and across the fields of International Business Commmunication, Marketing, and Law.
Cross-disciplinary synergies and teambuilding across academic orientations are an integrated part of the course.
Spin or fair speak - when foods talk:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Group exam, max. 3 students in the group
A final project in Danish or English.
During the course, you will identify a topic of your own interest which you will use for the exam project.
The topic must be approved by one of the teachers. In relation to this you will use literature relevant to the course and the chosen topic.
In group projects, the contributions of the each group member must be clearly identifiable.
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Max. 5 standard pages per student (appendices not included).
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter Term and Spring Term
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure


On a still more diversified food market, consumers are increasingly left to base their purchase decisions on what the product “says” about itself through words, texts, and images on the packaging rather than on exact knowledge of the product inside. Up to 80% of our daily purchase decisions are made in-store and take us a few seconds on average. This increases the risk that consumers will feel misled by what the packaging “told” in the purchase situation when later comparing it to the actual product or to information gained from other sources or elsewhere on the same package – e.g. when reading “0,4% dried avocado powder” on the backside of a product that presents itself as guacamole dip. Assessing the mechanisms behind consumers' decoding of the "cocktail" of verbal and visual stimuli on food packages concerns and combines a number of disciplines such as business law, marketing, design and the cognitive  sciences.
The course builds on ongoing cross-disciplinary research at CBS and will provide the participants with key insights into essential dimensions of the overall subject, a "language" in which these can be described and analysed, and hands-on tools for assessing the fairness or potential misleadingness of individual food naming and labelling solutions.
Main elements of the course are:
1. Foods and consumer decision-making from a fairness perspective.
2. The legal conception of misleading commercial practices and its operationalization. Can "likeliness to mislead" be identified and measured?
3. The semiotic cocktail of food labels. Verbal design elements.
4. The semiotic cocktail of food labels. Non-verbal design elements and brands.
5. Consumer and specialist knowledge meeting and possibly clashing on the front of package.
6. Semantic potential and knowledge versus visual attention. What does the consumer look for and what does (s)he make of what (s)he sees?
7. Case-based group work   
8. Test of alternative design solutions across groups.
A cross-disciplinary cocktail of language, cognition, legal affairs, design and culture allow the students to gain insights in and obtain analytical skills in view of avoiding misleading and deceptive marketing of food products and become creative when it comes to strengthening fairness in food label communication.
The objectives of the course are to enable the students to understand, reflect on and apply techniques of fair food communication by minimising the risks of misleading the big variety of consumer profiles. The perspective is national as well as international food markets, and CSR as well as competitiveness perspectives will be touched upon. To achieve this, cross-disciplinary methods and models will be used, and problems will be analysed from the consumers’ as well as the authorities’ and the food producers’ perspectives.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the ingredients and nutritional value of the food they eat as well as other factors like organic labeling, sustainability, fair trade, animal welfare etc. When all these factors are communicated to more or less well informed consumers, producers may willingly or unwillingly create misleading or deceptive food labels. Although this course uses food labels as an example, the theories and methods presented are applicable to other products and services which call for multi-parameter decision making.

The students will get:

  • a well-founded understanding of and analytical approach to the central elements of misleading and deceptive practices
  • a well-defined vocabulary discussing potential misleading and deceptive practices
  • tools for identifying potential misleading and deceptive practices in the semiotic cocktail of specific food packages
  • consultancy skills in view of sharpening bussinesses’ CSR profiles nationally and internationally.
Teaching methods
The course will draw upon a substantial body of research, present cases, give examples of real-life practices and involve areas of knowledge relevant to the students. Teaching methods will include lectures, discussions, student presentations and hands-on project work as well as home assignments.
Expected literature
  • Assessing in-store food-to-consumer communication from a fairness perspective: An integrated approach.Smith, V., Clement, J, Møgelvang-Hansen, P., & Selsøe Sørensen, H. 2011.  Fachsprache – International Journal of Specialized Communication, 33(1-2), 84-106.
  • Directive 2005/29/EC. Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market. Official Journal L 149, 11/06: 22–39.
  • Food Standards Agency. 2000. Better Food Labelling – Written Responses. Food Standards Agency/FSA. http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/betterfoodlabellingreport.pdf.
  • Food Standards Agency. 2007a. Consumers confused by health claims. Food Standards Agency/FSA. http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2007/jul/healthconfuse.
  • Food Standards Agency. 2007b. Review and analysis of current literature on consumer understanding of nutrition and health claims made on food. Food Standards Agency/FSA. http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/healthclaims.pdf.
  • Spin versus fair speak in food labelling. A matter of taste? Smith,V., P. Møgelvang-Hansen, and G. Hyldig. 2010. Food Quality and Preference 21: 1016-1025.
  • The impact of health claims on consumer search and product evaluation outcomes: Results from FDA experimental data. Roe, B., Levy, A.S., & Derby, B.M. 1999. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing18(1): 89-105.
  • Various articles, guidelines, sites.
Last updated on 18-11-2014