As a consumer, you are subjected to around 5,000 advertisements every day, according to the New York Times. Without ads, businesses and organizations would have no way to promote their products, services, and ideas. With that much noise, ads continue to reach a point where they’ll cross any boundary just to be seen, heard, and stand out, and we see that especially where ads for obesity prevention and weight management are concerned.
We compiled the worst obesity prevention ads of 2012. Taking a look at the ads, we asked ourselves, why would these messages ever come to market? And, what would make companies want to advertise their ideas or products in such tasteless, thoughtless ways? The state of Georgia and Active Life Movement are two ads we’ll feature that really missed the mark. However, there is one ad that took the number one spot as the best obesity prevention ad, and that belongs to Nike.
The Worst Obesity Prevention Ads of 2012
The “Stop Child Obesity” ads in Georgia may have done one thing the organization wanted it to, and that was get attention. However, the attention was more backlash than action. The series of ads and billboards were targeted toward parents, but they made the mistake of putting photos of children on the billboards along with messages calling children out and making them feel ashamed for being overweight, also known as fat shaming. With tag lines like “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid,” the ads created no value for the consumer and the message was read as if you are overweight then you should be ashamed of your weight. Although the ads were never intended to hurt or offend people, it did in such a way that the boards were removed.
Another obesity prevention ad gone wrong featured a Barbie- and superhero-like dolls in an Active Life Movement campaign. The ad features an overweight Barbie-inspired doll sitting on her bed with cartons of take-out surrounding her. “Keep Obesity Away from Your Child” is the message, yet no information, education, or solution is prevented to the parental audience. There is nothing positive that comes out of the ad. If an obesity prevention ad intends to be successful there must be a positive, actionable message and there is none in this ad.
The Best Obesity Prevention Ad of 2012
During the Summer Olympic Games, Nike unveiled an unforgettable and moving commercial featuring Nathan Sorrell. Nike’s Find Your Greatness Jogger was one of the best ads we saw this year, period. Nike’s marketing team deserves a pat on the back for this one. In the beginning of the ad it seems as if the person running is of normal size, but as young Nathan runs closer to the camera you see that he is overweight. More obvious is the determination Nathan has, getting up at the crack of dawn to run.
Nike created a sense of value for audiences because they strongly appeal to the emotions of the viewing audience and there is a relatability in the ad as millions of people struggle with their weight. There is no fat-shaming in the ad; rather than condemn those who are overweight they show a solution and how even a young man can do something to change his life for the better. He makes all of us want to “Find your greatness.”
Marketing and advertising is a lucrative industry and unfortunately there are ads that fail because there is no value or message created for the intended audience. Most of the obesity prevention ads and campaigns we have come across need to go back to the drawing board.