Ads that affirm our worst impulses are doing more harm than good

Unhealthy eating habits, encouraged by coronavirus contagion confusion, pose a more imminent danger that just making it harder to fit into a pre-pandemic wardrobe.

Mia Cathell The Post Millennial
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Halo Top Creamery owned by Wells Enterprises—known mainly for its low-calorie count—premiered a “Stop Shoulding Yourself” campaign in a fit-shaming advertisement video.

For sure she looks like she's having fun, and really sticking it to the powers that be by eating a pint of ice cream, but perhaps those powers that be are sticking it to her, instead.

As title slides list the “shoulds” of losing weight, exercising more, and eating healthier, a plus-size model proudly dances in her underwear while eating the marketed ice cream product.

“What we know about our consumers is that they’re constantly in the pursuit of holistic well-being,” Halo Top senior brand manager Shilpa Gadhok told Marketing Daily.

“This spot is for anyone who feels those pressures of what they should be doing versus what they actually are doing, whether that be around career, social life, wellness and beyond,” Gadhok emphasized.

The body positivity ad aligns with comforting public relations messages during the pandemic that told viewers to ignore their subconscious voice to do better and to not try to curb impulse control.

The idea was, as Meghan Murphy wrote in Spectator US, "It’s a pandemic — everything is ok." But as she pointed out, "‘it’s ok’ is terrible advice in general, and particularly at this time."

She went on to say that "...we’re being comforted into depression. Remember the mantra: ‘it’s ok to be not to be ok.’" Giving into your most self-damaging impulses as a matter of course doesn't actually make your life better.

Last month, Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam expressed concern to over the increased consumption of junk food and savory sweets throughout the global lockdown, suggesting a decline in mental health. When everything is in disarray, it's easy to give in to our worst impulses.

But unhealthy eating habits, encouraged by coronavirus contagion confusion and a feeling of it being simply too hard to not give in, pose a more imminent danger that just making it harder to fit into a pre-pandemic wardrobe.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed obesity as a pre-existing health risk that increases the chance of severe illness from the coronavirus.

A body mass index of 30 or above poses a serious risk factor for contracting fatal illness from  COVID-19, according to the CDC’s underlying medical conditions report.

In the wake of the emerging link between obesity and COVID-19 deaths, UK, health experts are calling for the government to push back on targeted junk food marketing.

The Obesity Health Alliance championed policy changes to tackle high-calorie food promotions in its press release. The polling data reveals that 74 percent of surveyed people support government action against invasive junk food commercials that prey on people's increased difficulty in curbing impulse desires.

This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly vowed to address the nation’s obesity issue, following his fatal brush with COVID-19.

Good nutrition and physical activity are vital to maintain a strong immune system against the virus, the OHA states. Perhaps Halo Top’s empowerment lesson is more destructive than confidence building.

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