Why are ad campaigns done in this fashion? I thought about it for a while last night and came to the conclusion that campaigns like this, which motivate based on fear, are decided upon in the same manor a toddler falls to the ground in a tantrum when he is so overwhelmed and under-equipped with words that he can’t get his message across. In other words, this seems like a pitiful move of desperation.
It’s always a mistake when we act hastily and sole based on emotions. In the case of this ad in which an obese man has digitally had his leg amputated and the point made on the add that portions have grown and so has type 2 diabetes, the connection is brutal. The ad states that type 2 diabetes leads to amputations. It can…but give me a break.
Let me put my self 10 years back into my once very overweight body. For real. I’d show you a picture but I think I burned them all. Now, I’ll imagine seeing this ad for the first time and ask myself what I think:
I’m completely aware about my weight, thank you very much. I’m already scared senseless of diabetes complications. I know I need to eat less. I also know that I’m hungry all the time…but I don’t know why. I know that I don’t feel well and am not nearly as happy as I could be. This ad just depresses me and reminds me that a soft drink or other cheap drive thru treat will cheer me up for at least 10 minutes. This ad makes me feel like a baby who has a pointed wagging finger in front of me while being threatened with a spanking.
I had to physically, mentally, and emotionally hit rock bottom and crawl on my hands and knees searching for information that would save my life and change it entirely for the better. I discovered information online about healthy lifestyle habits. I began making changes slowly. I exercised more, I ate different foods, and most importantly, I began forcing myself to change my thinking from overly negative to positive. Positive thoughts and these lifestyle changes began to slowly help lift me out of my depression, which helped me do what I needed to do-like test my blood sugars and exercise, and shun junk food. I lost weight, nerve pain in my feet disappeared, I changed jobs, I improved relationships, and I felt hopeful about my future with diabetes. My entire life changed because of positive information helping me, guiding me towards a new way of thinking and living. I would have loved a billboard containing a hint of the information I had to dig up to find. I would have loved for it to be more accessible to me.
The ads that inspire fear in people who are already fearful and suffering do nothing. NOTHING except harm our psyches even more than they are already being harmed by our lack of health and all that a lack of health leads to.
So I propose NYC and those in charge of similar campaigns for change stop panicking and making ads like chickens with their heads cut off- “Let’s tell them (particularly Latinos) that they better start downsizing their soft drinks or they’ll lose their legs and worsen our economy even more! Let’s tell them before we’re all really screwed!” How about we start thinking solidly and compassionately about what really motivates people. Hire people with diabetes as consultants. Hire psychologists who can help you determine how people get motivated. Stop deciding for yourselves that informing people about the worst case scenarios is going to slap them straight into the right actions. I’m sure that method doesn’t work on you.
You know…hope and positively stated, encouraging information works a lot better.