Making a TV ad about childhood obesity

If you were given responsibility for making a TV advert to raise awareness about childhood obesity and to get parents to do something about it, where would you start?

That was the task that faced safefood and our partners this time last year.

Our starting point was that we knew that this was an important public health issue with one in four children here either overweight or obese. We knew this meant they were storing up health problems for later in life, and already often suffering social and psychological consequences. Yet this is such a complex and sensitive issue it is a huge challenge to get the message right. So what did we do?

In line with best practice we listened to our target audience in focus groups all over the island. Unless we knew how they felt about the issue, the barriers they experienced in trying to be healthy, and the messages that resonated best with them, we couldn’t possibly succeed. At the end of that process we had six key actions that parents felt they could take to help reduce their children’s risk of obesity.

Parents told us that change is challenging. As a result, the actions are all small, practical changes that parents can take with their families, one small step at a time. They are not always easy but they are designed to be ‘doable’ and fit into families’ busy lives.  The ads needed to engage parents by showing everyday situations and habits that people would readily identify with. That’s why the scenes are shot in ordinary households and the food has been selected to reflect every day meals. Essentially, these should look like familiar scenarios for most families.

The motif is that all our ads show a child demonstrating unhealthy habits and becoming progressively heavier. The ads then end with the family demonstrating the healthier habit and the potential for a positive outcome as they grow up.

Many people have asked us about the children and how we recruited them. You can find our more about this and how we made our ad by watching our video.


Posted: 11/04/2014 10:08:23 by Aileen McGloin
Filed under: Ads, Bring Back Play, Campaigns, Childhood obesity, Children, TV

About Me

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Aileen McGloin
Hi, my name is Aileen McGloin and I am the Director of Marketing and Communications, at safefood. I trained as a public health nutritionist originally and am passionate about changing food-related behaviour. I have a particular interest in using digital technology to promote health. At home, I love books, am in a book club and married to a crime writer. I’m a fiend for all things fashion and like walking, swimming and TV that is so bad it’s good. I live in Co. Wicklow with my husband and 10 year old daughter.