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Misguided Ad Campaigns

Monday, May 25, 2009 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD
1. Did you get your free burger at Harvey’s yesterday? Unfortunately, Travis and I missed the wonderful promotion. Apparently, May 24 was Harvey’s Free Hamburger Day, as long as you showed up between 10:30am-3:00pm. Although we missed our chance to wolf down all 380 kcals of a free Harvey’s hamburger (consisting of 144 kcals of fat), according to Travis, we may have been in the minority, as the line-up at the local Harvey’s was around the block.

Way to go Harvey’s!

2. Not to be outdone, McDonald’s also has a new obesigenic promotion going. As you can from the pictured billboard as seen in downtown Kingston, and the numerous TV ads, McD’s is now offering soft drinks of any size for $1! They call it the “dollar drink days” promotion. Given the option, I wonder who would actually choose a small or medium instead of the large drink given the same price. I fear the majority of cash-strapped Canadians will go for the 730ml large pop, containing 340 kcals worth of sugar!

For an even better deal, you can just eat the 21 teaspoons of pure sugar contained in these drinks and wash it down with some tap water – same nutritional content, same great taste, for much less.

3. I’ve received 2 versions of the same ad from Premier Fitness, and each time I am amazed at the sheer stupidity of the advertising approach. As you can see below, the flyer states in large bold letters: “DO NOT JOIN!” While I was never even considering joining Premier Fitness, this gem of a marketing campaign just sealed the deal – “Alright Premier Fitness – lay off me, I won’t join!”

Only the most determined consumer would put in the effort to read the fine print below to find out that you can get a free 30-day membership. Now, I am not a marketing expert, but I think you should save the fine print for stuff you DO NOT want the consumer to read.

Maybe Premier Fitness will get it right next time.

4. And lastly, one of my favourite ad campaigns comes courtesy of Goodlife Fitness (For Women). To celebrate Goodlife’s 30th anniversary in the business, they created the “Weigh More, Pay Less” event.

The flyer states:

“During Goodlife’s 30th Anniversary Weigh More, Pay Less event – bigger is better when it comes to saving money!”

“For a limited time, when you join Goodlife, the more you weigh, the less enrolment fee you’ll pay…”

I see, so in order to get the best discount on your Goodlife gym membership, you should gain as much weight as possible before you go to sign up and reap the financial rewards - or get pregnant, as suggested by the picture. Nice!

But don’t worry – “no weight restrictions apply and there is no weigh-in necessary…” and “you don’t need to be in shape before you join!”

This latter point is simply perfection – imagine that, you don’t have to be in good shape to join a fitness club…

Have a great day,


[Note: Thanks to Marina Komolova for providing the pictures for this post]

Related Posts:
1. Krispy Kreme andDenny's battle the North American underweight epidemic!
2. Yesterday's 'Large' Becomes Today's 'Small'
3. Holiday Weight Gain

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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