Friday, 26 September 2014

Are You a Fool for Fast Food Ads?

Advertising Promotes Obesity

Advertising, particularly advertising on TV does play a role in making people, especially children obese. When a child watches a show they will see an ad during the commercial break that features a high fat, sugar and/or sodium product. When you think about this, during the 30 minutes the show is on, approximately 22 minutes is dedicated to the actual episode and the rest of the time is filled with ads. With constant exposure to these commercials, children are influenced to eat unhealthy foods. Furthermore, during the show children tend to eat snacks without even thinking about it. In the end, these influences and eating habits increases the likelihood of obesity.

In recent years, marketers and advertiser have gone beyond the promotion of products on just TV and started to use other digital marketing methods. These techniques target teenagers through their cell phones, video games, social media and other mediums.

Advertising and Its Role in Obesity 

In many ways, the individual, parents, food manufacturers and sellers all need to take responsibility for the wellbeing of their health, the public’s health and their children’s health.

Marketers and advertisers do have a role in providing content that is appropriate in promoting healthy lifestyles. With that being said, I do not feel like this has been done. The role of an advertiser is to sell a product and if the target audience is a child they are going to gear the products ad towards the child. This child in response to viewing the ad will then pester their parent or guardian to buy the product. Additionally, it is also the role of the manufacture to produce and develop healthier food options that are low in unhealthy fats, sugars and/or sodium.

Is it Real or is It Delicious and Fun?

Food stylist play a large role in styling food in such a way that it makes it more appealing to the consumer. Products we see in reality do not reflect the product we see in ads or commensals. The reality is, the product being shown in these ads are not as delicious and fun as they are when we buy them ourselves. This is deceptive and not truthful. Advertisers and marketers are selling a glorified version of the product.

A great example of the difference between a stylized product and a product made in reality is the McDonalds campaign were their show the difference in their Quarter Pounder.

Our Responsibility

If changes are to happen people need to be outraged by these ads. When people are outraged to the point of taking action, change typically occurs. Change does not typically happen when people do not speak up and request change. It is our responsibility as the consumer to insist that companies, adversities and manufactures change the way they market their food products. Furthermore, assuming that change does not happen we as the consumer can also take steps to help protect yourself and other against fast food commercials. Some suggestions are:

  • Understand advertising tactics.  For example, stylizing food or using celebs to indorse their product.
  • Thinking before you eat. Are you really hungry and is there a better choice?
  • If you are going to be sitting around for a long period of time, maybe during the 
  • It’s OK to eat fast food just do it the right way and make the right choices when at the counter or drive through.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The world of Photoshop

Benefit, Dishonest or Lying

I feel that not everybody understand that the use of Photoshop is not just on images; it is also used in TV, videos, print ads, online videos etc. In short, Photoshopped images are everywhere.
The question is how much are these images are altered in order to achieve a particular look. Furthermore, to what extent does the general public understand how much an image is altered? In my opinion, Photoshop is a tool used to be creative. However, when used to alter images for ads, a Photoshopped image is not really a true representation of the product being sold. As a result, I feel that laws should be passed were ads should state that they have been altered.
One of the main strategies of altering images in the media is to reinforce the idea of what is consider normal in mass media. For example in mass media, the idea of the ideal women is represented as extremely thin, tanned, and no unsightly bumps.
Source: business of fashion: GagaDaily, Versace 

Due to the large amount of edited images, when an image is not changed it is consider ugly. For example, the above image is a photo shoot of Lady Gaga in a Versace ad. The image on the left is unedited and Lady Gaga looks sick whereas, the image on the right she looks polished and classy. In many ways, one can consider this lying because the image on the right is not what Lady Gaga looks like in real life. It is a dramatization of her and this is the way the public views her.

Is She Real? Does it really matter?

A great example to illustrate how models in these images are not real is through the famous Dove campaign “Evolution.” This video shows a regular woman who is changed both through makeup and Photoshop to look like a supermodel. In the video, they show how her face is manipulated to look thinner and longer. It even eliminated all of the small imperfections and drew attention to features such as her lips and eyes to an unrealistic amount.
With this being said, Dove still releases images of Photoshopped woman in their ads so one has to question if it really does matter if a girl is Photoshop or not in an ad. In my opinion, I don’t care if an image is altered, what I do care about is that people do not always know that the image has been altered. Rather, they believe mistakenly think that the edited image reflects how people actually look. That is why I believe it would be a good idea to pass laws to force companies to include a statement in their ads stating the image has been digitally altered.
On the positive side, this campaign was the start of many videos and workshops that Dove ran to support and promote what a real woman really is. The campaign also started a revolution of sorts where other people discussed and reconsidered the value or harm that a Photoshopped ad had in our society.

For example, the agency Ogilvy Toronto attacked the advertising industry and fellow colleagues through a video called “Thought Before Action”. In the video, Ogilvy creates a tool called “Beautify” which gives a glow effect to a models skin. It then promoted the tool and told the viewer to download it for free from Reddit. Once you download the tool and use it to brighten the model’s skin, it reverts all of the changes of the image to reveal the original.

Literal or Metaphorical

Images created in ads are meant to be metaphorical but not everybody understands that. When you see images over and over again, you start to believe that is what should be reality. I do not blame art directors for insisting that images be retouched because it is an expected part of the industry and our culture. I am hoping that in time, with campaigns like “Evolution” by Dove and Ogilvy’s “Thought Before Action”, it will spark some undertaking and change within the industry to promote more awareness to tell people that the images in the ads are not real. Passing laws to insist that agencies include a disclaimer in their ads may not be a final solution but it but it might be a step in the right direction.


Kraskinsky, S. (2013, March 21). What's behind the culture of Photoshop in advertising. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from

Olson, C., & Jensen, S. (2014, June 23). Op-Ed | Photoshopped Fashion Ads Should Be Labelled - BoF - The Business of Fashion. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from

Monday, 15 September 2014

Is that Really Appropriate?

In regards to the big picture, the placement of an ad and the culture of the target audience usually determine if an ad is deemed offensive. For example, an ad in Europe (which I find to be very liberal and open in terms of its content) could be pulled in North America because of the “offensive” content. Furthermore, time is also a factor in the decision of pulling or not pulling an ad. Ads in the past that depict women or a certain demographic might have done well in the past but today they would be deemed as sexist or racist etc. and would be pulled or not even released in the first place.

With that being said, in my opinion, as long as they meet regulations and break no laws, I don’t believe offensive ads should be banned because the purpose of the ad is to grab the attention of the viewer. Negative attention is still attention.

Even though I don’t believe that offensive ads should be pulled as long as they meet regulations, I do understand and respect why ads are pulled. Furthermore, if the message is not offending the target audience then it doesn’t matter if it is pulled or not because it will not ultimately affect the end numbers. Ads are usually placed in locations to reach a particular demographic. If that demographic finds the ad offensive and voices that discontent, the ad agency or the ad’s company will know that there are most likely additional people who may find the ad offensive too but have not spoken up about it. Usually, a company does not want to deal with negative PR. If the company faces negative reaction to an ad, the company may find it more appropriate to pull it in order to comfort and reassure their viewers and maintain its profits.

Agencies and brands need to be aware of a ever-growing diverse public but I think it really depends on the intent of the ad and the targeted group to really determine if the ad is appropriate or not.

Typically, once the ad is released to the general public, the viewer or costumer determines if an ad is offensive. Before the ad is released agencies/companies use focus groups to determine if the ad has any issue with its content.

In many ways, the main purpose of agencies/marketing groups is to cut through all of the other ads in order to gain brand recognition and awareness. Sometimes, it does feel like they are desperate when they put out a shocking ad but at the end of the day does it meet their goal? 

It seems to me that the numbers determine that answer to hat question. Does the consumer still shop more or show that they are more likely to buy a given product because of the ad? Do people talk about the product either in a positive way or negative way? Overall, at the end of the day it is up to the discretion of the company or the agency to pull an ad unless it violent any regulation or laws.