Thursday, September 16, 2010

coalition of WTF

The motto of COAK--the Coalition of Angry Kids--is "There is no childhood obesity epidemic."

On their front page is the following:

Who are you calling obese?

We heard that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

And people are saying that 1 in 3 of us are overweight or obese. They even use that weird word--EPIDEMIC--when they’re talking about us kids.

"Eat healthy." "Go run around outside." "Turn off the screens." We hear those things a lot, too. Well, Mom and Dad, can you help us out here? We need more than reminders and threats. We need good examples.

We’re in this together, so let’s fix it together.

If you want us to eat less junk food, then let’s eat better together. If you want us to play an hour a day, then come out and play with us.

That sounds like a healthy solution to us. How about you?
Except--of course--COAK isn't actually a coalition or independent organization of any kind, it's a marketing strategy from Anytime Fitness to get people signed up to their gym. Note the fake little kid handwriting of the logo and the drawing of the family.

Here is the company's reasoning behind their campaign: "Too much blame is being placed on the kids," says Chuck Runyon, Anytime Fitness CEO. "Adults need to step up and be better role models if we want our kids to be healthy. That’s what this is all about."

Note also (this is my point) that there are some news sites reporting COAK as real news: "Coalition of Angry Kids send a strong message to parents"! Lllllllllllame.

The Biggest Web User has announced a new "Go Daddy Girl" to "target fat internet users": Jillian Michaels of the Biggest Loser and you know...whatever it is she does. Here's how the company is positioning it. CEO Bob Parsons, who calls Michaels "smokin' hot," said:
He suspects most of his company's customers are overweight, as are most Americans, who he said make up 82 percent of the world's Internet users.
"They will recognize Jillian and they'll be charged up by her," said Parsons, 59, who said that he and his wife came upon the idea while watching TV. "My days of being a fat guy are numbered."
The thing that strikes me--after imagining how much worse the already pushy/chaotic GoDaddy front page graphics will become--is how disingenuous this sounds. Usually the trade-off with sponsorship seems a little cleaner: you sell your endorsement/spokesperson-ship for--money--but also for your own increased recognition in return. In this instance there is somehow a sense of Doing Good in it that needles.

This is commerce. It is a way for her to sell more of her product, which appears to be your part of the losing/gaining pie. Commerce. But it's flavored a bit as something else, due to some kind of unspoken assumption that we all are already engaged in the Must Lose battle.

"They will recognize Jillian and they'll be charged up by her." The move seems ultimately quite naked about leveraging our nation's obsession with weight. Ameliorate your market position, continue the drama--it never ends, lots of dough.