In today’s society we are intent on pushing boundaries just to capture the attention of our audiences. Advertisements have become more risky and daring in proposing controversial topics in a way which forces the viewer to engage and form an opinion. Powerful images work to manipulate an audience through signs. How an individual perceives an image depends upon their specific values and beliefs and certain campaigns intend to provoke a particular community who may take offence.
How far is too far? Many ads have been banned for crossing the line. Today we are lead to believe that any press is good press and often bad publicity is better than good because outrage spreads like wildfire.
“It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” Ouch. Perhaps a little too insensitive? Other tag lines for the anti-obesity campaign run by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as part of their Strong4Life program included “Fat prevention begins at home. And in the buffet line.” and “My fat may be funny to you. But it’s killing me.” Along with the series of billboard pictures the campaign included multiple short videos outlining different effects of obesity on children. Most of them included the tagline at the end saying “Stop sugarcoating it, Georgia.” The ad is targeted at parents and encourages them to make a difference in their child’s life by showing negative effects of obesity, such as disease and bullying. The Strong4Life twitter replied to a user who claimed their ads were a “sophisticated way of bullying” by saying that “obese kids get bullied all the time” and they were merely attempting to end the “issue” and decrease the amount of bullying. I’m confused, so what we’re supposed to take from this is that their anti-bulling campaign is to stop being fat?
I feel they may have crossed the line just a little on this one with the harsh connotations targeted towards obesity. Although maybe like the vice-president of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Linda Matzigkeit, says “It has to be harsh. If it’s not, nobody’s going to listen.” A true statement, but within that there should be limits. Controversy and shock-factor are vital elements in advertising but when it gets to the point where an advertisement is offending a demographic audience and provoking strong negative reactions perhaps certain limitations should be undertaken.
SALAHI and SALAHI, L. 2012. Child Obesity Ads: Public Service or Put-Down?. [online] Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/stop-sugarcoating-child-obesity-ads-draw-controversy/story?id=15273638 [Accessed: 30 Mar 2014].
NPR.org. 2012. Controversy Swirls Around Harsh Anti-Obesity Ads. [online] Available at: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/09/144799538/controversy-swirls-around-harsh-anti-obesity-ads [Accessed: 30 Mar 2014].
Mail Online. 2012. ‘Mom, why am I fat?’: Controversy over shock anti-obesity ads featuring overweight children. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2081328/Weighty-debate-anti-obesity-ads-featuring-fat-kids-causes-criticism-health-advocates-shock-tactics.html [Accessed: 30 Mar 2014].
NY Daily News. 2014. Anti-obesity ads featuring overweight kids spark controversy in Georgia. [online] Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/anti-obesity-ads-featuring-overweight-kids-spark-controversy-georgia-article-1.1000142 [Accessed: 30 Mar 2014].