This controversial new subway ad campaign, aimed at encouraging consumers to choose beverages with less sugar, asks New Yorkers if they’re “pouring on the pounds.” The image depicts human fat flowing from a soda bottle. Tasty.
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On the one hand, I think a little shock value never hurts. On the other, the wording is a little bit over-the-top, in my humble opinion. However, trying to get the message across as succinctly as possible was probably a priority.
I’ve seen a lot of different reactions to this ad ranging from laudatory to condemning, and I have to say, I’m split.
While I’m generally not a fan of scare tactics, that this ad at least offers a suggestion of what to drink instead of sugary beverages is somewhat redeeming. Offering alternatives is key to helping people eat healthier rather than just telling them that what they’re doing is bad. I think too many little battles on obesity target people’s body image, setting the stage for emotional eating that perpetuates the problem.
I’d like to see more out there promoting overall health in general, but a lot of people feel that may not be “aggressive” enough. They may or may not be right. A part of me worries too, about young girls and women who will see the ad and internalize it too much, that it may fuel disordered eating of a different sort. Either way, all I mean is that while wake-up calls and gross-outs will get people’s attention, you’re not going to get very far telling someone they’re a fat slob. You need to encourage them to make healthy choices.
Of course, a lot of people think there needs to be a glaring problem before you actually fix anything. I think that’s the fundamental issue, really. In our country, we don’t focus nearly enough of preventative health and living a healthy life in general.
It’s a precarious balance, I realize, but I think this ad at least makes an attempt at balance, so I’m more or less okay with it. I’m just not looking forward to seeing it on my morning commute.

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