Cancer Research UK in trouble for linking “obesity” with smoking in controversial new campaign

Many people would argue that the first job of advertising is to be noticed and Cancer Research UK’s current poster campaign has done just that – by linking obesity with smoking as a source of cancer and implying, it seems, that you can give it up as you can smoking.

Cancer Research boss Michelle Mitchell says: “Our campaign aims to raise awareness of the link between obesity and cancer, and to inspire policies that create a healthier environment.

“We have a responsibility to tell people about what might increase the risk of cancer. Like smoking, obesity puts millions of adults at greater risk of cancer – and like smoking rates, obesity rates can be reduced with government-led change.

“Smoking rates in the UK have dropped dramatically over the years, thanks to measures like higher tobacco taxes and marketing bans. Now we need a similar approach to tackle obesity.”

Thought there was one, with bans on so-called junk food and the like.

The campaign, presumably by Cancer Research’s agency Atomic, does its job with cigarette-style branding but it’s provoked an entirely predictable social media storm – which may have been the intention.

Is it stigmatising fat people (obesity measures are so wide they’re almost useless) for being the agents of their own misfortune when many almost certainly can’t help it?

Um, yes.

Update

Sorry Anomaly – thanks for the comment.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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    Campaign actually by Anomaly.