an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Posts Tagged ‘weight-loss’

Weight Watchers: To Love Yourself

Posted by Rosepixie on June 2, 2010

This is a recent commercial for Weight Watchers featuring Jennifer Hudson (a singer/actress).

I actually really didn’t mind this commercial this much until she said that having lost weight “makes me love myself that much more”.  And that brought me up short.  At first glance, that statement isn’t so bad.  Great, she loves herself more now than she did before.  But if you think about what it’s telling the viewers, and more specifically the target audience of people who might want or need to lose some weight, it’s not such a great statement.  If losing weight is good because it will make you love yourself more, than that means that you aren’t as worthy of your own love until you lose that weight.

And that’s not a good message at all.  Because while I think Weight Watchers does a better job than most of showing healthy body shapes in their ads and not overly encouraging unhealthy body images, they aren’t in a vacuum.  Their sort of unspecific weight loss ads really only work because there’s so much other stuff in our media that tells us what “fat” is and when you need to lose weight (which, sadly, is pretty much all the time if you’re a woman).  And worse, Jennifer Hudson specifically has a lot of teenage fans, so using her as a spokesperson is going to get their attention more than if they had featured someone else.  And teenage girls already have a hard enough time learning that they can love themselves (even beyond concerns about body size or shape or anything).  Is it really a good idea to reinforce to them that they’d be more lovable if they looked different?

While I think that Jennifer Hudson could be a great spokesperson for Weight Watchers, I think that this one line makes this an incredibly irresponsible and potentially dangerous ad.  Even if it’s true for her that she loves herself more, that’s more indicative of the problems we have than something to be celebrated and passed on to other people.  It’s absolutely something worth talking about – but a thirty second ad spot isn’t long enough to do that in, nor is discussing such an issue the focus of an advertisement like this.  I think this is a pretty horrible ad and wish I could expect better from Weight Watchers.

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Organic Liaison: Magic Shrinking Potion

Posted by Rosepixie on May 5, 2010

This is an animated advertisement featuring Kirstie Alley, a businessman and a fireman (don’t ask me) for a weight loss program called Organic Liaison.

I find this commercial to be incredibly weird.  First of all, when I first saw the commercial I assumed it was selling some kind of pink weight-loss drink, not an actual program with all the bells and whistles that weight loss programs generally come with – but it’s for a program, not a drink.

Beyond that, I thought that the “thin” version of Alley looked incredibly freakish.  Her clothing appears to be falling off and her limbs look like they could break any minute.  And she’s animated – she didn’t have to look frail.  Yet I honestly think that the “fat” version of Kirstie Alley in this commercial is considerably more attractive than the “thin” version.  She’s got nice curves, her clothes flatter her, she’s big, but not crazy-unhealthy-all-over-the-place fat.  And her face isn’t pointy.  She looks good.

I’m not sure what’s with the businessman and the fireman, but I assume they are supposed to somehow suggest that this program is for anyone, not just famous people like Alley.  I found the static people on the stairs behind them to be odd (especially the little old woman holding yet another bottle of the magic pink drink).

So what is with the pink drink?  No idea.  None of the products in the program look like that pink juice bottle.  Nor does the program seem to involve lots and lots of chugging magic potions.  It does involve a bunch of products that sound an awful lot like magic potions and have not been evaluated by the FDA, so I have no idea how effective they actually are (probably about as effective as most weight loss programs – as effective as the effort you put into them makes them).

This all means that I don’t think that this ad is actually very good.  It doesn’t show what it’s selling in any way that makes sense, it suggests magic and totally unrealistic results and the animation actually shows us an attractive woman becoming a scary, pointy lady who reminded me of a someone who kind of reminded me of a witch with her pointy chin and scary stick limbs.  This is not a good way to sell something.  And worse, it reinforces the idea that women should be the kind of unhealthy thin that you can really only achieve through eating disorders like anorexia.  Not a good message.

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Vintage Friday: Fight Fat with Tapeworms!

Posted by Rosepixie on April 2, 2010

This is a poster for fat-banishing tapeworms.  I don’t have a date on it, but from the style and art I’d guess it’s from early in the 1900s.  If anyone has a date, I’ll be happy to update this post with it!

The text reads:

No Danger

No diet – No baths – No exercise!

FAT – the Enemy that is shortening your life – Banished!

How?  With sanitized tape worms!  Jar packed.

“Friends for a fair form”

Easy to swallow!  No ill effects!

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  It’s the miracle solution for weight-loss!  Except that it involves swallowing tapeworms.  Yeah.  Tapeworms.  So it’s actually keeping you thin by… well… doing pretty horrible things to you, actually.

Of course, these are sanitized tapeworms, so maybe they’re ok.  Who knows?  Clearly someone thought it was a good idea.  And that woman is very pretty.  Still, I’m not sure I’d want to swallow tapeworms to look like her.  Would you?

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Ignite Maxx: It’s Like Cheating!

Posted by Rosepixie on March 24, 2010

This is a commercial for a weight loss product called Ignite Maxx that I’m reasonably certain is a scam (meaning I don’t suggest you even consider taking it, the company screams “shady”).  At best it’s homeopathy, which is essentially a scam dressed up as natural medicine.

The woman in this ad makes me want to bang my head against the wall repeatedly.  First she very clearly states that for her, being fat meant being miserable because it meant she couldn’t wear the clothes she wanted.  I’m sorry, but if you’re entire life is miserable just because you can’t wear something you need to reevaluate.

Then I actually laughed out loud at her when she listed sizes.  She says that she was a size 13 and now wears a size 7.  Now, this woman looks like an adult to me.  In her twenties at least.  Definitely not a teenager.  For anyone who doesn’t regularly deal with women’s clothing sizes – they come in even numbers.  Only teenager clothes (“juniors”) come in odd numbered sizes.  So either this woman is trying to dress younger than she is (by quite a bit) or is delusional when it comes to sizes.  Regardless, this struck me as very funny.

Finally she tells us that she “put” several of her friends on this miracle drug and they’ve all lost at least 20 pounds.  To which I felt like responding, “so, you told all your friends they were fat? wow, remind me never to be your friend!”

This is an awful commercial.  The product seems to be terrible and the ad is just as bad.  At least you get an idea of what you’re getting into from it.  Would you want to do business with a company that so obviously thinks it’s customers are worthless and stupid just because they want to lose weight?  I wouldn’t.

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Weight Watchers: Lose Weight to Save the World?

Posted by Rosepixie on February 10, 2010

These are two commercials for a yearly Weight Watchers campaign called “Lose for Good”.

I was seriously creeped out by these ads.  I showed the first one to my husband to see if he shared my reaction and he did not, but he also had no idea what it was for (he assumed it was an ad asking people to donate food, and in that context he didn’t find it creepy).  When I told him what it was for, he agreed that it was kind of creepy, but mostly he felt that it was confusing, since he never would have guessed it had to do with weight loss.

My reaction was pretty visceral.  I was incredibly bothered by both of these ads.  I’m troubled that neither one says what they are for exactly, but the second ad makes it pretty clear.  I think it makes more sense to talk about them separately.

Ok, the first ad feels like a pretty generic “we’re all one big happy family, so let’s save the world” thing at first.  The problem is that it’s full of strange things that don’t make sense.  The idea of “balance” is nice, but when has the world ever known balance when it comes to everyone having… well… anything?  It asks went that happened as if it’s a new thing, but it’s not.  There were feudal lords and Chinese emperors with plenty to eat surrounded by starving peasants in the middle ages and before that there were Egyptian Pharaohs living in luxury and feeding beer to slaves while they worked them to death.  The world has never had “balance”.  It doesn’t work that way.  Even if everyone was inclined to share, there are famines and wars and religions and more reasons that people hate each other than reasons that they don’t most days.  All of this means that we can’t “get it back” because we never had it in the first place!

The second ad is just plain creepy to watch and carries so many disturbing overtones.  The clear people, one fat (and not even that fat) and the other thin, are kind of eerie at the beginning.  But that is their least eerie moment!  The idea of people pulling pieces off the fat person is pretty horrifying.  First, this clearly shows that the ad thinks there is something wrong with the fat person and that people pulling pieces off of it will help to “fix” it.  Now think about this.  Random people are literally pulling pieces off of a human figure from anywhere they feel it should loose some pieces.  Granted, this person is made of tape, but still…  And then they take the pieces they pulled off of the fat person and put them onto the thin person, because clearly it needs “fixing” too.  Eventually, after parts of the fat body have been forcibly removed and transfered to the thin body, they are the same shape.  And then, the commercial tells us, they are right.  The idea of transferring fat from people to other people is really pretty disgusting by itself, even outside of how insulting it is to people outside of the “right” shape.  Do we really all want to look the same?  And don’t point out skin color or whatever – these are skin-colorless people and they are exactly the same.  It reminded me of Barbie and her friends,who have all different skin colors and hair styles and yet all have exactly the same body.

And all of this comes back to the message running through both ads: that “you” losing weight will help the world.  Think about that statement.  It says not only that your weight somehow has baring on the state of the world (which is a pretty incredible statement to make), but also that by losing weight you would improve the world.  That implies that by not losing weight, that the weight “you” have now, is hurting the world or at least somehow contributing to what’s wrong with it.  Does that seem like a helpful or positive message in ANY WAY?  Because I can’t figure out any way that it could be!

I appreciate companies that decide to donate to charities and help “give back” somehow, but I have a big problem with programs like this that do it by spreading harmful messages and being unclear about how they are actually helping at all.  I do think that Weight Watchers could run a good charitable program, but this isn’t a good way to do it.  This is atrocious and I had thought better of Weight Watchers.

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