If you read the national press or women’s glossies, losing weight holds the key to good health, happiness and fortune. With headlines promising readers to ‘be the best you’; it can all be achieved by dropping a dress size, being more active and reducing your BMI.
Working in PR, with a specialism in health and wellbeing, we are often faced with requests for weight loss stories. And while we have placed them and will continue to oblige, one recent story about the banning of a Diet Chef advert, got us thinking.
You will have likely seen the advert in question, which in October was banned by the Advertising Standards Agency. There’s nothing particularly provocative about the advert; it features a lady, Cheryl, talking to her future self after she lost weight, thanks to the Diet Chef programme.
What caused 26 complaints and resulted in the advert being withdrawn, was the fact that the ‘before’ Cheryl in comparison to the ‘after’ Cheryl, was wearing little make-up, was dressed in unflattering clothes and had a generally more bleak and unhappy demeanour.
In reality, it’s difficult to tell if Cheryl had actually lost any weight, although the advert informed us she’d lost over a stone and was much happier now in a bikini.
While this advert has been deemed ‘socially irresponsible’ and mulled over by the powers that be, from a consumer perspective it shows consumers are apathetic to losing weight messaging that focuses on how overweight people are unhappy, particularly if it isn’t effectively substantiated.
Human interest case studies will always be of interest to readers and viewers, but they need to be real and credible. And while losing weight can be a life-changing and positive influence, manufacturing stories to sell products is not the answer.
As the country faces an obesity epidemic and more people battle with weight management issues, sensible advice and communications are more important than ever. Brands, marketers and media have a responsibility to be honest and balanced.
We fully endorse ethical and considerate communications, which is why when it comes to developing and placing national case studies, we let the facts speak for themselves.