The city Health Department in New York is catching some heat for their latest ad campaign linking big soda portions and diabetes. One of the ads features an obese man who had his leg amputated due to type 2 diabetes. The ad reads “Portions have grown. So has type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations.”
The ads have caused a stir for their blunt messages, but the obese actor in the amputation ad is upset about the blunt appearance of his right leg.
27-year-old Cleo Berry, while living in NYC several years ago, participated in a paid photo shoot with photographer Morten Smidt. The photos were then sold to a stock photo company. The stock photo was purchased by New York City’s Department of Health, who digitally altered the photo to remove Berry’s right leg below the knee and used the photo as part of their anti-diabetes campaign.
Berry was floored.”I cried at my computer screen for, like, a minute,” he said. “I said: ‘Oh my gosh, they even gave me crutches. Come on, people.’ ”
It is common to alter purchased stock photos and Berry admits he signed a waiver before the photo shoot. The health department behind the ads dismisses the actor’s reaction, and thinks the ads are a part of something bigger.
“This issue isn’t about one actor but rather the 700,000 New Yorkers who struggle with diabetes, which kills 1,700 people a year and causes amputations in another 3,000,” said John Kelly, a spokesman for the health department, in a statement. “Advertising to warn the public about health concerns saves lives, and we will continue our efforts to warn New Yorkers about diabetes.”
Berry’s main gripe is that the amputation is, he says, negatively affecting his acting career. “I’ve always wanted my photo in an ad all over the city, but I was hoping it would be for a TV show or something, not — this,” Berry said. He’s so upset his image is used in the ad, he is even willing to lower his acting rate for soda companies that would like to use his two legged likeliness.
“I’ll sing and dance for them and I won’t charge an arm and a leg,” he said.
Clever verbiage, Berry, but I think you may be more embarrassed appearing in the ad in general, leg or not, but I can assure you, retaliating by supporting soda companies isn’t going to help anyone.