Our beloved Brew.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are Blue Cross And Blue Shield’s Childhood Obesity PSAs Smart Or Shaming?

Obesity advertising is causing a stir these days. A billboard campaign for a local hospital's surgery solutions suggests obesity is a disease, not a choice. A TV campaign of a few months ago caused a brief dust up when an on-screen child sat facing his mom and asked "Why am I fat?" Now a new campaign has hit the air waves from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The above link was sent to me by a friend with whom I worked on a project for the Coalition to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) which is made up of the City of Chicago, Lurie's Childrens Hospital, and about 150 community organizations. My friend and I continue to discussed aspects of obesity, healthy food access, and related topics despite the fact that the project is over because his primary business has to do with innovative aspects of relationships between food, water and energy and the impact they have on our way of life.

Here's my take on the BCBS ads: If parents aren't role models what are they? In our culture, no one is ever at fault, no one is ever a loser, no one is ever responsible for their actions or those of their kids. Parents should be very much responsible for the actions of their kids up to a certain age, To some degree, we either become our parents or choose to be the complete opposite. Coming from an overweight (obese) parent, which I am, whose own kids are NOT overweight, I see how my eating and exercise habits have not been good examples for my children. They made better choices with regard to diet and exercise despite the poor example I set. On the other hand, I seldom drink, we only have alcohol available in the house when guests are over, my wife never drinks and yet both of our kids like to drink (and get drunk).
Personally, as a consumer, a parent and a fat guy, I am not the least bit offended by these ads nor do I consider them to be bullying, shaming, or inappropriate. They're just poorly made. In both spots, the acting is so bad and over the top that I find the actors to be unlikable. Both boys in the "guy" spot are whiny and less than talented actors. In the mom and daughter spot the woman's facial expressions and body movement are so forced, I am unmoved by her. Poor acting/directing killed what could have been effective ads. In other words, I get the message but I am not likely to take action. Ultimately, the duty of all advertising is to sell something/provoke action and I don't see that happening here.