DoH enlists Aardman models to spearhead anti-obesity campaign

LONDON - The Department of Health is to use brightly-coloured plasticine figures, created by the makers of Wallace & Gromit, to spearhead its £75m Change4Life marketing campaign aimed at combating obesity.

The initial £8.7m ad push, by M&C Saatchi, will run across TV, outdoor and press over the next three months from 3 January.

The TV execution warns how modern sedentary lifestyles and poor diets cause fat to build up in the body, increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

It shows Aardman Animations plasticine figures, which bear more than a passing resemblance to 80s animated character Morph, living active lives in prehistoric times before contrasting this with today where their time is spent getting buses, eating junk food and playing video games.

Realising how harmful this is, the characters become more active and the ad ends with the call to action and campaign strapline: ‘Eat well, move more, live longer'.

Change4Life, which will be supported by £75m of taxpayers' money over three years, is also backed by a number of companies such as PepsiCo, Kellogg and Unilever that have pledged support totalling £200m. The inclusion of food companies, however, has drawn criticism from some lobby groups.

At the campaign's launch, chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said these companies' use of the Change4Life branding would be monitored.

‘If a company like PepsiCo gets involved in this they will be subject to strict scrutiny. I think it's a very good way of keeping them under pressure,' he commented.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: ‘Change4Life has a critical ambition. We are trying to create a lifestyle revolution on a huge scale - something which no government has attempted before.'

The tone would be ‘supportive, informative and reassuring', she said. ‘It's not about telling families what to do and what to eat.'

The government's aims for the campaign are to arrest the rise in childhood obesity by bringing it back to 2000 levels by 2020 and increase the understanding of the link between obesity and cancer.

Under the Change4Life banner a number of initiatives by food companies and retailers are planned. These include:

  • Through its sponsorship of the London Marathon with the Flora brand, Unilever is branding the marathon route with Change4Life messaging, and runners and visitors will be given campaign handouts.
  • In January and March ITV will run two prime time Saturday night shows called the "Feelgood Factor" to help families live more healthily.
  • The Co-operative Group is offering to communicate the key campaign messages through its nationwide network of 2,200 food stores and 800 pharmacy branches.
  • In March Kelloggs will expand its breakfast clubs and announce Britain's best breakfast clubs, along with co-branding their swim activities with Swim4Life in January and February.
  • PepsiCo UK will run an ad campaign to promote the benefits of active play using well-known sportsmen and women who can serve as role models.
  • In August ASDA will be undertaking a major flagship event - Bike4Life - to raise awareness of cycling as an activity that all the family can do.
  • Tesco will promote the Change4Life message in store, on its website and run themed price promotions in store.


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