Saturday, September 23, 2006

Crisps equal Oil

The BHF has 'revealed' that one packet of crisps per day is equivalent to drinking almost five litres of cooking oil every year. This kind of study angers me. What does five litres of cooking oil mean? Even when I eat healthy meals, a stir fry say, there is a splodge of oil in there. Fast food presumably contains a good deal more. I would consider it entirely plausible that these will also add up. What this entire story is missing is the connection to some kind of effect that is scary. Drinking oil is a little weird and gross but doesn't exactly instil much fear.

The new advertising campaign appears to be based entirely on the 'drinking oil' premise but does drinking oil really carry much shock value? It isn't like seeing the injuries that come with getting bit by a car or the clogged up veins that are a result of smoking.

As such, I doubt this will change much. If the loss of status and mockery that comes with obesity isn't enough to change behaviour I doubt changes in the media environment such as this or the campaign to ban certain advertising will make a big difference.

I think that sometimes shock advertising campaigns are at the opposite extreme and are unnecessarily harsh. There was a recent cinema campaign aiming at convincing women to avoid unlicensed taxicabs and the risk of rape this entails. It consisted of a group of women enjoying a club but then dragging one of their number off to be sexually assaulted. It then ended on the statistic that there are x number of rapes per year of women who take unlicensed taxis.

Now, I doubt most people knew that statistic before hand and it seems likely to me that it would be enough to change the behaviour of anyone paying attention. For that reason, I doubt it was helpful to inflict that kind of stress on the movie going public; the shock was more likely to turn people off than increase the impact of an already strong statistic.

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