Thursday, December 22, 2011

How can we create anti-obesity advertising that works?

Given my strong belief that advertising can be used for the greater good, I have been following attempts to combat obesity with advertising closely.   This particular ad baffled me.  Since no one is actually going to walk from Queens to Manhattan (unless they are taking part in the NYC Marathon), I can’t help but wonder why anyone thought this would be motivating.

Well, it appears that I missed a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health.  The study tested three different messages about sugary drinks on teens.  The first two – “A typical bottle contains 250 calories,” and “This bottle contains about 10% of a teen’s recommended daily calories,” reduced the odds that teens would buy sugary drinks by 40%, while the final message – “You have to jog 50 minutes to burn off the calories in this drink” reduced the odds by 50%. (Wilson, 2011)

It seems likely that this study led to the above ad.  Yet, the phrasing in the study was clearly easier to grasp than the wording in the ad above. 
But perhaps the more important finding is that all the messages yielded encouraging results.  It reminds me of the broccoli tv advertising test, which I wrote about here…

But I still think that we can do better.  Given that 67% of women want to lose weight, why not try a positive approach?  (Clark-Flory, 2008)
How would you respond to an ad that says “eliminate one sugary drink a day from your diet and you will lose 12 pounds in a year?”  I think it would get my attention.

Wilson, J. (2011, December 15)  Teenagers buy fewer sugary drinks with posted calorie count.  Retrieved December 21, 2011, from

Clark-Flory., T. (2008, April 25)  Study: Most women “disordered eaters”. Self Magazine.  Retrieved June 14, 2009, from

Blanchard, K. (2011, December 6)  Weight loss research 2011: Top findings for a healthier New Year.  Retrieved December 21, 2011, from

No comments:

Post a Comment