Thursday, August 13, 2009

Steer Clear of the First Children in Advertising

There's a big ad controversy going on in DC at the moment revolving around some posters in the DC Metro that mention Obama's daughters. The posters are indeed politically motivated—they lobby for healthier school lunches and were placed in the Metro to target commuters going to the Hill just a month before a congressional vote on the Child Nutrition Act. The White House has requested the removal of the posters, but the group responsible for them, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), has declined to do so, stating they think it's only President Obama's handlers and not the President himself who have a problem with this.

There are more than a few problems here. First off, the ad itself is bad. It's just plain bad advertising. The concept is boring, the photography and design are bland and typography is just plain awful. What is that speech bubble font? Some even worse spin off of Papyrus? The concept of the ad seems to be calling out that the children of the rich and privileged (aka the Obama girls) eat better than those in public school lunch programs. Well no kidding! They go to a private school that costs $30K per year—they eat better than I do! And guess what, children in a $30K per year school are always going to eat better than those eating on the public dime.

If the PCRM's agenda was really just healthier school lunches, I think their campaign would have done better to compare public school lunches—especially since there are some out there worth noting. Appleton, Wisconsin's public school system seems to have it figured out and they have a great, healthy school lunch program in place. It is not only more realistic comparison, but it shows it can be done economically. Unfortunately, in researching for this post, I learned quite clearly that just healthier school lunches isn't all the PCRM is all about.

True, the Obama daughter's school lunch menu includes a vegetarian option for each meal which, if you read this Washington Post article is what this whole debate is about for PCRM. Not surprising either since a little reading on the PCRM's website for their school lunch initiative,, says that they are for healthier lunches, but via vegetarianism and veganism. They actually suggest schools stop buying meats, cheeses and butter if you read their recommended changes to the National School Lunch Program. Yikes! A little googling about the organization shows their really not so subtle about their activism and are clearly advocates for vegan diets. Umm... Somehow I don't think the Obama's will want their daughters mixed up in any such political activist group.

Perhaps that little hidden agenda is why they ignored seemingly logical and interesting directions, like referencing Appleton, in favor of a trite concept that would get them some press. Well, that and actually being transparent about ridding schools of meat probably won't win them too many votes. I'm all for healthier school lunches and I love what's going on in Appleton, Wisconsin, but you'll never find me in favor of veganism. Thank you, but I am a proud omnivore and manage eat a pretty healthy and low fat diet, meat and all.

In any case, if you're going to ruffle the feathers of the White House and seek attention from the press, at least do it with a decent piece of advertising!

1 comment:

postcollegecook said...

Wow - great analysis of this ad. Thanks for doing the background research. I couldn't agree more with just about everything you said - including the part about being a proud, healthy omnivore!

Crazy agenda stuff like this really grinds my gears...