GRHF Announces Obesity Ad Campaign

October 15, 2008 at 11:06 am Leave a comment

The Greater Rochester Health Foundation has announced a new TV advertising campaign that targets the parents of overweight children.  The ads are part of a $50 million campaign against childhood obesity that the Foundation announced last year.

You can see the ads and read about the campaign at the Foundation’s “Be a Healthy Hero” website and read a D&C article about the yesterday’s announcement here – full text of the article after the jump.

Democrat & Chronicle, October 15, 2008

Ad campaign by Rochester foundation targets childhood obesity
By Justina Wang

As part of a $50 million campaign to drive down the rate of childhood obesity in Monroe County, a series of ads on TV stations will attempt to rouse parents with a mix of bleak warnings and upbeat messages about their kids’ health.

In one commercial, the camera pans through empty gyms and swimming pools while a narrator gravely wonders about the life expectancy of the younger generation: “What happens next is up to you.”

In another, children dance and play to an energetic jingle about eating more fruits and vegetables.

The dual message, developed after focus groups found that many of the 1,200 Monroe County parents interviewed were reluctant to address their children’s weight issues, will raise concern while offering help, said Bill Murtha, CEO of Roberts Communications, which produced the commercials. The strategy is to “shake them first, then give them a hug,” Murtha said.

The ads unveiled Tuesday are the latest addition to the Greater Rochester Health Foundation’s 10-year anti-obesity campaign, which also includes funding children’s fitness and nutrition programs, and pushing for healthier school lunch menus and safer play areas. Spurred by statistics that show one in three Monroe County children are overweight or obese, the organization – one of Rochester’s wealthiest private foundations – has promised up to $5 million a year for efforts that address the problem.

For each of the next two to three years, about $1 million of those funds will go toward the public awareness ads, which will also run on the radio, in print and online. Another $750,000 over the next three years will help pediatricians talk to parents about obesity, foundation representatives announced Tuesday.

“There is no other way to galvanize the community,” said Monroe County health department director Dr. Andrew Doniger. “This is one of the largest public health campaigns that has ever happened in Monroe County.”

The ads, targeted at mothers of young children, will run mostly during TV shows watched by women in their 20s to 40s, said foundation president John Urban. In the next several weeks, the foundation will introduce the campaign with 10-second messages about sugary drinks or exercise, before airing the “shake and hug” commercials. All the ads will direct parents to a Web site,, where the foundation will post recipes, healthy tips and links to area playgrounds. After several years, the foundation will re-evaluate the commercials and begin reaching out to families of older children, Urban said.

As part of the effort, the foundation is also distributing booklets to local pediatricians’ offices that will recommend ways that physicians can disarm families when talking about childhood obesity, like using the words “unhealthy weight” instead of “overweight.”


Entry filed under: Adolescents, Children, Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity, Physical Activity.

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