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.

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