Change4Life tries to shock with 'hidden nasties' ad

The Government is turning to shock tactics in the latest stage of anti-obesity initiative Change4Life by using live action for the first time to highlight the amount of fat and sugar contained in some foods.

An ad break takeover will launch the annual new year push during this evening’s (7 January) Coronation Street on ITV1. The first and last ads in the break will again feature the Change4Life animated family but switch to the real world to illustrate the amount of sugar and fat contained in the cola and pizza the family were seen enjoying. The spots claim a bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 17 sugar cubes and a large pizza contains a wine glass of fat.

In between, ads from Asda, Quorn, Uncle Ben’s, the Co-Operative Food and Cravendale will carry Change4Life’s “Be Food Smart” sub-brand and offer advice on healthy meal options.

Sheila Mitchell, marketing director at the Department of Health, told Marketing Week the switch to the “more arresting” real world in the M&C Saatchi created spot is an attempt to provide a “bit of shock” and lay bare the “hidden nasties” contained in some food.

A poll of 2000 people conducted by Censuswide for DH found half didn’t know the amount of sugar contained in a can of cola, while 49 per cent where unaware a large takeaway pepperoni pizza has two times the recommended maximum daily intake of saturated fat.

The ad featuring the Aardman developed characters will run throughout January. It will be backed by several marketing initiatives including “Be Food Smart” promotions in Aldi, Co-op and Asda stores, an app providing healthy meal ideas and offers including free Cravendale milk and money off Quorn products and Robinson’s Fruit Shoot My-5 for those signing up to the campaign,

Almost £4m will be spent on media, down slightly on recent pushes. More in-kind support, however, has provided greater “commercial noise”, Mitchell adds.

The last major Change4Life push ran during 2012’s “summer of sport” and was activity-based to exploit interest in the Olympics, while last year’s new year push focused on supermarket promotions on the ingredients needed to make what were dubbed supermeals.

The move comes as the government comes under pressure from the Labour Party to get tougher on the food and drink industry over brands high in sugar and fat aimed at children. Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham is to launch a consultation to canvass thoughts from medical groups and the public on whether to regulate to take foods high in sugar, such as children’s breakfast cereals Frosties and Coco Pops, and those high in fat off the shelves.

A DH spokesman pointed to the success of the Responsibility Deal with industry, which has seen many companies voluntary pledge to reduce sugar, salt and fat content in food.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Incredible that the government are allowed to run ads disparaging the soft drinks industry, yet when Sodastream try something similar, they are run over by Big Cola's lobbyists!

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  • I wonder if the trend in government marketing in 2013 is set to be shock tactics then? This certainly seems to be an early pattern given the latest anti smoking campaign.

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  • Perhaps the goverment should start by banning all fast food companies from advertising until after the watershed and spend more money on educating children about the levels of fat and sugar in foods and the health risks involved.
    I highly doubt that this advertisement will have any impact.

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  • What's the point in giving vouchers for milk, Quorn and Fruit Shoot? What about vouchers for REAL foods such as quality protein, fresh vegetables and REAL fruit (not Fruit Shoot for Heaven's sake).

    The real message ought to be about encouraging a switch to real fresh foods, not simply swapping one processed food for another. Yes I know milk is a real food, but the sugars in milk stimulate insulin out of all proportion to other sugars, and so it is not the best option.

    Why would I give my children Fruit Shoot as one of their 5 a day when some bottles contain aspartame - a chemical sweetener with links to asthma, behavioural problems, headaches, etc???

    When will they stop treating us like idiots?

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  • Perhaps it's time to start bluntly telling fat people that they are fat and it's going to kill them. There were fewer fat people when there was less political correctness.

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  • Why are these 'nasties' allowed to be hidden in our foods? Stop maunfacturers producing rubbish as food! It's quite simple Oh & perhaps fat people, those who smoke & drink should have to pay for any healthcare related to their lifestyle choices?

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  • At least the government are trying to do something. It's only a matter of time before the big food manufacturers are put under the same sort of pressure as the tobacco companies. It's long overdue IMHO.

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  • Stick an excise duty on sugary drinks, extend VAT to food, with exceptions for fruit and veg, and adjust the tax threshold and benefits to compensate so that people who aren't eating their way to hospital don't lose out.

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  • I agree with one or two of your more astute readers, it is madness that Sodastream's ad was banned for being denigratory to the soft drink's industry and yet this was able to run. Given that change4life is promoting a similar message by advising consumers that a bottle of, what is unmistakably Coke, contains 17 lumps of sugar, this is totally unjustifiable. The Carbon Trust conducted their own analysis looking at Sodastream and verified that it is 75% less greenhouse gas intensive than that of generic colas sold in plastic (PET) bottles in the UK.

    Unfortunately, Clearcast have shot themselves in the foot this time, funded by the main TV channels (and advertisers), it doesn’t look good for the creative industry, the environment or for the innovator / challenger brand. We’ve seen the upset overnight that can be caused by a lack of transparency around products, with the ingredients of Tesco’s burgers. Likewise plastic bottled drinks can make up a large proportion of our carbon footprint and are increasingly the main waste found on beaches in the UK. So why not let the Sodastream ad run?


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