Reducing the nation’s waistline

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I noticed today that the government has launched yet another initiative to encourage all of us to eat healthily and reduce obesity rates.

My initial reaction to this news was sceptical – I’ve lost count of the number of national campaigns aimed at reducing our waistlines in recent years. Thus far, advertising campaigns and celebrity endorsement don’t seem to be having the desired effect – Jamie Oliver is trying his best but how much can one man really do to change a nation’s eating habits?

But, surprisingly, the Change4Life campaign appears to have more substance. The government will be working hand in hand with some of the food industry’s biggest players – including Tesco, Unilever and Kellogg’s – to encourage us to beat the bulge.

Involving large companies with this initiative is a savvy move by the government. For example, PepsiCo UK will run a parallel advertising campaign to promote active play through sports personalities – providing Change4Life with high-profile, celebrity endorsement at no cost to the tax payer!

No doubt British Olympians, such as Rebecca Adlington and Chris Hoy, will be lined up alongside the usual suspects from football – John Terry, David Beckham and maybe even Steven Gerrard if he can polish up his tarnished image!
But it isn’t a one-way street – this partnership between the food and advertising industry and the government will benefit all the companies involved. As pressure mounts on the government to introduce legislation regarding food advertising, this is a clever move that will certainly delay, if not prevent, such restrictions.

There will be a lot of mileage in the PR for each and every brand or business involved. They will be able to position themselves as ‘the good guys’ in the fight against the UK’s obesity epidemic.

But, as with all advertising and PR campaigns, the real question will be “has it worked?” And if it does, just how many more partnerships will be forged between the government and businesses in the name of public health?