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Nike’s ‘Jogger’ isn’t running alone

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This post reflects my interest in advertising and promotions as a marketing student. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers. No agencies or products are endorsed.
 

 

USA TODAY‘s marketing reporter Bruce Horovitz looks at Madison Avenue’s use of obese people in advertisements as symbols of change. The story cites Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” ad that features Nathan running on a lonely country road as narrator Tom Hardy quietly assures us that greatness is not reserved for “the chosen few. For prodigies. For superstars.” According to the USA TODAY story, the other brands in following in Nike’s footsteps — so to speak — are Blue Cross Blue Shield and, of course, Subway, which is happy to celebrate Jared‘s 15 years of healthier eating.

From the USA TODAY story:
 

Why is it now acceptable to show obesity? “More of us are overweight, so it’s a shared problem,” says Valerie Folkes, marketing professor at University of Southern California.

 
But that’s only a small part of the reason it’s OK show obesity. A quote from Erich Joachimsthaler, a brand consultant, points out that the ads’ appeal is also rooted in a new generation — a generation where fat isn’t different and we’re all famous, even if for a little while.

From the story:
 

“The new generation doesn’t see (obese people) as different. There is a new, democratic world view: Everyone can be a star.”

 

With that casual acceptance in mind, we ask what’s the big deal? Well, society and the media tell us being obese is not OK, being overweight is not OK — it’s a constant message no matter how many times celebs tell us they like their weight gains or urge us to love ourselves just the way we are. But if we consider that in the calendar year 2009–2010, 35.7% of U.S. adults were obese, we understand exactly why brands are embracing obese people: They’re consumers, too, with discretionary dollars to spend. This isn’t about everyone loving everyone just the way they are; for better or for worse, featuring fat folks in ads is about sales — plain ol’ dollars and cents.

Quick facts about obesity from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:

  • An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
  • An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
  • Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.
  • Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.

SOURCES:
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
 
 

Author: Jacqui Barrineau

Jacqui Barrineau is a writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with husband Trey, a Shetland Sheepdog, and two unhelpful-but-funny cats. Her work has appeared in "So to Speak" and "Calliope," and she's a regular contributor to the flash-fiction sites Paragraph Planet and Doorknobs & Bodypaint. Once upon a time, she was the audience engagement editor at USA Today. Now she does other fun things that involve advertising, marketing and social media. The views expressed here and in other outlets are hers, not her employers'. Outside of work, she's proud to serve on the Northern Virginia Community College Marketing Advisory Committee. As a committee member, she joins industry leaders in lending their knowledge and expertise to ensure the college's Marketing curriculum is relevant and responsive to the needs of the students and the surrounding business communities.

2 thoughts on “Nike’s ‘Jogger’ isn’t running alone

  1. •Subway. In March, the sandwich chain celebrates the 15th anniversary of Jared as spokesman. The ads feature photos of him at 425 pounds. “It’s hard to lose the weight, but it’s even harder to keep it off,” says Tony Pace, head of Subway’s marketing arm.

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