Sad Gargoyle

Disgusting Advertising

Grabbable GutDisgusting advertising featuring “grabbable guts” and “toxic fat” will be served up to people in the state of Victoria, Australia, starting this week. There’s nothing subtle about this advertising. The call to action is simple: “eating less and moving more every day.”

Australia is rapidly catching up with the U.S. in the obesity derby, so they’re taking the eat-less-move-more prescription that has worked so well here and pairing it with images to prove how disgusting obesity is. No fat shaming here. What could possibly go wrong?

Advertising that taps into fear and disgust is a tricky business. It certainly makes the people who don’t have the problem feel better about themselves. Slender people get a real boost of moral superiority from such appeals.

But a recent review of 60 years of fear appeal research concludes what professional marketers already know. Fear mongering doesn’t really move the people it targets. They just turn the page and tune out these disgusting ads. More encouraging appeals are more effective.

That’s why you see people who sell weight management and smoking cessation offering up positive messages like, “You can do it, we can help.”

It’s a sad waste of public funds, as well as an opportunity lost.

Click here to read more and here to read the analysis of fear appeals for behavior change.

Sad Gargoyle, photograph © Digital Wallpapers / flickr

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