Study: In ‘Healthy’ Fast Food Ads, Kids Mostly Just See French Fries

Just watch the video here and you’ll immediately get the gist of this study. To sum up: when fast food companies try to advertise to children their “healthier” dining options, (like apple slices) the kids, for the most part, don’t see beyond the fries.

The takeaway, according to researchers at Dartmouth, is that these ads from fast food giants like McDonald’s and Burger King “don’t send the right message.”

Here’s more from the Dartmouth news release:

In research published March 31, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald’s and Burger King children’s advertising images depicting that product. Sliced apples in Burger King’s ads were identified as apples by only 10 percent of young viewers; instead most reported they were french fries.

Other children admitted being confused by the depiction, as with one child who pointed to the product and said, “And I see some…are those apples slices?”

The researcher replied, “I can’t tell you…you just have to say what you think they are.”

“I think they’re french fries,” the child responded. Continue reading

Questioning The Ads For Below-The-Waist Surgery


By Judy Foreman
Guest Contributor

Not surprisingly, the headline about “designer vagina” procedures in a press release this week from BMJ Open, an online publication of the esteemed BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) caught my eye — and stopped my coffee cup in midair.

It appears that women are flocking to surgeons for things like “vaginal rejuvenation,” “G-spot amplification,” “revirgination” and “labiaplasty.” According to the BMJ authors, a team from University College Hospital in London, vaginal cosmetic surgery is a growing thing for women who “simply don’t like the way their genitals look.”

Good Lord.

These women are apparently concerned about the visibility of vaginal labia through tight clothing (I must be getting old. Why not just wear looser clothing?). Or, as the BMJ authors put it, they want their labia to look “sleeker” and “more appealing.” The women in question seem to have an “awareness – courtesy of a partner or magazine pictures – of larger than normal labia.” (What kind of partners would say….oh, well.)

There is an actual point, beyond sheer prurient interest, to the authors’ concerns. They are worried, with good reason as I discovered, that Internet ads touting these vaginal cosmetic procedures are of “poor” quality. That is, they often contain inaccurate and misleading information. (Are we surprised?) Continue reading

After The Multivitamin Study Comes Multimedia Ad Campaign

Yesterday, many major news outlets covered the story of an 11-year study of multivitamins that suggested men who take them have a slightly reduced risk of developing cancer.

The vitamins’ effect on cancer was “modest — an 8% reduction in the risk of total cancer,” said the study’s co-author, Dr. Howard Sesso, an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But he said the findings were important  “given how little we know about the prevention of cancer in general.”

But perhaps even more striking than the vitamins’ modest health benefit was what happened today: a decidedly un-modest advertising campaign on television and in newspapers touting the multivitamins used in the study — Centrum Silver, owned by drug giant Pfizer.

(Just to be clear on the study’s financing, it was “supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and an investigator-initiated grant from BASF Corporation. Study agents and packaging were provided by BASF Corporation and Pfizer, formerly Wyeth, American Home Products, and Lederle, and study packaging was provided by DSM Nutritional Products, Inc., formerly Roche Vitamins”).

A full-page ad in The New York Times claims the multivitamins used in a clinical trial are the “most studied.”

There was a full page ad in The New York Times promoting the vitamins as: “Most doctor recommended; Most preferred; Most studied.” Interestingly, the ad doesn’t mention any reduced cancer risk, but maybe in this age of tainted drugs, “most studied” is an even more reassuring claim.

And here’s what CommonHealth’s co-host Carey Goldberg confronted during her morning workout:

I was on the elliptical at my gym at a little after 8 this morning, looking up at the array of a half dozen television screens, and was amazed to see ads for Centrum Silver on three televisions at once, apparently all three major networks, touting the vitamins as not just most recommended by doctors but “most studied.” It surely is “most studied” after a trial of 15,000 men over more than a decade, but I felt like a total tool for writing about that trial yesterday.

Indeed, as soon as the study was released, the promoting kicked in. For instance, here’s part of Pfizer’s cheerleading press release on the vitamins and offers of myriad company executives to interview about the results: Continue reading

‘I Am A Steward’ Ads During Olympics Draw Scrutiny

Here’s another fine story in Commonwealth magazine on Steward Health Care System’s ongoing push to gain market share in the region.

The current piece focuses on the company’s new ad campaign — running during the Olympics — that casts Steward “as a delivery system for a new type of world-class health care.” Bruce Mohl reports:

The powerful ads, shot on location at Steward hospitals in Norwood, Quincy, and Brockton and featuring employees from all of the chain’s 10 facilities, are attracting attention because of their message and the significant financial outlay they represent. Hospitals often advertise, but rarely on television, and rarely during a high-profile event such as the Olympics. When hospitals do run ads, the ads typically promote the hospital. But the initial Steward ads don’t even mention the chain’s hospitals; instead, they attempt to build a brand around the Steward name.

Cerberus Capital Management, a New York private equity firm, owns Steward, which operates hospitals in Fall River, Methuen, Brighton, Norwood, Dorchester, Brockton, Ayer, Haverhill, Taunton, and Quincy. The company’s foray into health care is being watched closely in Massachusetts. Many health care officials are skeptical that Cerberus/Steward can turn the struggling hospitals around, but Steward officials say they plan to expand their business model to other states. A Steward spokesman declined to discuss the ads, referring a reporter to the company’s press release.

Mohl closes his piece with a nice extra oomph of reporting:

According to Steward, the ads were developed by the Boathouse Group Inc. of Waltham and directed by Lisa Rubisch, who has shot ads for such companies as Nike, Fidelity, Coors, and Honda. In the irony department, Boathouse is run by John Connors, the son of Jack Connors, who founded the advertising firm Hill Holliday and recently stepped down as the chairman of Partners HealthCare, the corporate parent of two of the biggest teaching hospitals in Boston — Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.