Shame marketing won’t solve the complex problem of obesity

There is something of a trend of what I like to call “shame marketing” emerging.  To address complex social problems like obesity, some organisations are running campaigns based on messages of shame and guilt to in an attempt to bring about positive behavioural changes

For example, Strong4Life (left) ran this intentionally controversial campaign with obese children in an attempt to shame parents in order to disrupt an institutionalised trend of childhood obesity in Georgia.

Strong4Life or Shame4Life?

And the Western Australian Heart Foundation (right) recently ran this series of belly grabbing ads to promote awareness of the potential dangers of carrying a few extra kilos.

Toxic Fat: The campaign director described it as “truly innovative and creative”

Using intentionally controversial messages and imagery to address sensitive and complex problems is purely a shock tactic and will be ineffective in addressing these problems.

An institutionalised and complex problem like obesity will not be reversed by an ad of a fat child.  There is no silver bullet that will solve the problem of obesity.  Rather than simplistic shock advertising campaigns, addressing obesity will involve a series of initiatives which target social and economic issues such as shopping and eating habits, body image and self confidence issues

Even being able to isolate the effect of a single media campaign on the multifaceted process of losing weight is implausible.  It would be hard enough to show that there any relationship between a campaign and obesity, without even making a claim that the media campaign actually caused people to become healthier.

Being able to say these campaigns “work” by encouraging people to get healthy is practically impossible.  And anyone who tries to claim otherwise is making an extremely misleading claim.

Essentially the only good these campaigns do is shock and offend people into talking about the problem of obesity.

// Alec Schumann

About AnthonySchumann
Subtle Bravado // Creative Boutique. Ted Anthony - Vision Alec Schumann - Creative Follow @AnthonySchumann

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