Rewind The Future

Since much doesn’t change on the weight loss front from week to week I thought I would share some of the stuff I have been working on for school. I’ll share some art but I only had one art class this quarter. I thought I would start with a paper we had to write for my critical thinking class.

The assignment was to choose a commercial or print advertisement and analyze the effectiveness of it. This particular ad goes hand in hand with my nightmare of what my future might have looked like if I didn’t have gastric bypass. Below is the ad and my paper.

The advertisement I chose to analyze was Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Rewind the Future. The commercial was released on September 18th, 2013 as part of their Strong For Life campaign making it a little over a year old. The commercial is meant to create a shocking reaction that many viewers can identify with either personally, or through someone they know.Since this advertisement is being presented by the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, they are using ethos as its primary persuasive tactic.

The advertisement opens with a point of view shot from a 32 year old man on an emergency room table in cardiac arrest. As the doctors go over his vitals one asks “how does this happen?” We then begin to rewind as we see his eating habits through his life all the way back to his infancy where his mother is appeasing him with french fries to keep him from crying. The screen cuts to black and in writing says your child’s future; we then cut to an aerial shot of the medical staff cutting the patient out of his clothing and the words printed over it “doesn’t have to look like this.’ The screen cuts to black again, and we see the message “There’s still time to reverse the unhealthy habits our kids take into adulthood. We can show you how” followed by information on how to access their services.

While the intended audience is for parents with young children, or young adults, I believe it makes anyone who has been brought up with a similar lifestyle to think about the choices they make.  Even though I am not the intended audience for this particular clip because I do not have children, I personally identified with its message. I was brought up in a household where we weren’t told no to whatever we wanted to eat, and were raised on fatty, starchy Mexican food. At the time that I first saw this commercial, I had just begun the long process of getting approved to have Gastric Bypass. Upon viewing this it reaffirmed the reason I was going under the knife to

insure that I wouldn’t end up on an ER table at 32 under cardiac arrest. I think it’s a very powerful message for parents to see because part of the problem with my weight is I didn’t learn how to eat properly until I was 17, and the problem was out of control.

The advertisement has come under a lot of flack for being anti obese people, as seen in an article from the August issue of Good Housekeeping by April Rueb. I don’t necessarily agree with that viewpoint; I think it’s more anti a health issue, not anti a group of people. I would, however say that it does portray a couple of negative stereotypes. It makes it seem like every single heavy person is a walking heart attack, which is not true. All of my blood work prior to surgery showed that I was actually very healthy despite my weight with no comorbidities. I decided to go under the knife to make sure that I didn’t occur any comorbidities in the future. It also made it seem like every heavy person is lazy. I know many big people (myself included) who play sports, work out, and are active but have other conditions that make it hard for them to lose weight.

I thought the scare tactic was effective for this particular message. I feel like most of the time when advertisements come on about health or fitness that people tend to zone them out since we are constantly bombarded with them. Since the advertisement holds no punches as far as shock factor goes, it makes it successful in not only capturing the audience’s attention, but also making them remember the message. The use of the point of view camera angle was effective in making you experience what the patient is experiencing both on the operating table, and during the flashback sequence. The flashback sequence was effective in highlighting habits that parents don’t see as hurtful but really make an impact on the choices their child will make about food in the future.

The language used is a bit accusatory making it sound like unless you follow their tips that this will for certain be your child’s future. My one concern I would have as a parent would be the unnecessary stress this ad might have on my child. If my child was overweight it might cause them to be unnecessarily stressed out about keeling over at the age of 12 since children can’t always fully comprehend. Adversely it might cause a child who doesn’t have any weight issues to become unnecessarily obsessive about what they are eating.

Overall despite the few flaws I found with this particular campaign I thought  it was effective. They knew by being shocking this video would go viral causing lots of people to see it. In a day and age when according to the American Heart Association one in three teens is overweight or obese, which is triple the rate from 1963, perhaps Americans can use fright as motivation. I think this advertisement was so poorly received by some because we have become a society where everyone is a winner, so no one feels bad. We have also gotten to a state where we want to put our heads in the sand when it comes to anything that is unpleasant, making childhood obesity a big elephant in the room because parents would rather ignore the problem than hurt their child’s feelings.

The ad is certainly food for thought for anyone. The fact of the matter is for a lot of children raised on fast and processed food this will be their future. If it’s not a heart attack, it might be joint issues or diabetes. I think the ad has an important message that the best start that you can give to your children’s health is to teach them healthy habits as a child. Like the saying goes, you can’t teach a old dog new tricks. By the time a person is 18 and able to make their own decisions about food they might be so set in unhealthy ways that irreversible damage has been done. While scare tactics don’t always work, because it’s such a dramatic difference from the smiling faces we normally see on health ads, it makes a lasting impact with the viewer.

Sources

  1. Rewind The Future [Motion picture]. (2013). USA: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. YouTube
  2. Rueb, A. (2014, August 14). This Anti-Obesity PSA Sends a Powerful Message But does it go too far? Good House Keeping.

    http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/womens-health/powerful-anti-obesity-psa

  3. What is childhood obesity? (2014, August 1). Retrieved November 3, 2014, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/HealthierKids/ChildhoodObesity/What-is-childhood-obesity_UCM_304347_Article.jsp
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