Everyday Ethics

Public health announcements: they make me vastly uneasy. And none more so than the new NYC anti-soda campaign, which actually just makes me vastly queasy:

Sugar into Fat.jpg
Do we really need some in-your-face ad agency terrifying us with PSAs à la the text-messaging teenagers car crash video that was burning up the internet last week?
Personally, I think ads like these are sort of insulting to our intelligence. Does anyone honestly not know that soda is highly calorific by now?
“But Hillary,” you say. “Obesity is a national epidemic. And smoking is killing us by the millions. We need shrill shock advertising to drive that message home. We’re saving lives here, woman! What’s a little nausea compared to that?”
Hm. My gut reaction to this gut-twisting image is that I’m not keen on it – mostly because it seems like a manipulation of our baser emotions to get us to change our “bad” habits through shock and awe. I believe we ought to be resolving to make health changes from a more reasoned part of our brains – getting our whole selves on board, as it were, and it offends me when people try to “get” me to change my lifestyle using such base tactics. Maybe if they could show me some hard stats that proved these scare tactics were highly effective (and the jury is definitely still out on that) I’d have a change of heart.
What do you think? Are these ads doing a public service, or just turning the public’s stomach?

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