Judge This: NYC’s Anti-Fattening Drinks Ad Campaign

Saturday on the subway I was enjoying the above poster, as I have numerous times throughout the semester.  And in fact, I haven’t just been seeing it on the subways but in my mind whenever I think of sodas now.  In fact I’ve had this image in my head since before I saw the ad for myself as just hearing it described to me by one of my students, I got the point and appreciated it.

And as someone with terrible eating habits that palpably need to change, I welcome the aggressive attempt to help my mind to better correlate foods and drinks with their actual consequences.  A quick perusal of the internet response to the ad reveals some people seem suspicious and disparage it as a “shock” campaign.  But it’s reality and an attempt to counter the deception of soda’s sweet, sweet taste.  Rational as we may be on one level, on another level, we are animals bodily lured by beautiful sights and sweet flavors and this plays a serious role in undermining our more considered judgments.  If this is what it takes to help our habitually deceived subconscious correlate our food and drink with its actual consequences, then I’m all for it.  I need the visual and so I appreciate it.

But am I wrong?  Is there something I’m missing here?

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • mikespeir

    If they want to campaign against it, well and good. If they want to legislate against it, not so good.

  • http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com/ Bruce

    But I only drink diet… :O

  • 1minionsopinion

    I’d have to do some hunting, but I think I saw reference to a study or book somewhere that illustrated how illustrations meant to curb a behaviour actually entice people to cave into that behaviour. It had to do with cigarette advertising, I think. People read the words, but see the image and subconsciously want what they see. They’ll disregard the intent of the words completely.

  • http://sendaianonymous.wordpress.com sendaianonymous

    I think the ad is silly and completely counter-productive. First of all, using magical words such as “cut back on the soda” won’t actually fix a person’s dietary habits, but might serve as a semi-magical means of making oneself feel better. “I cut back on the soda”, one might think, “now I will be perfectly healthy!111!!!”. Secondly, if you just focus on soda, it might seem that soda is the sole factor responsible for obesity or whatever, whereas it most certainly is not.
    They could have at least gone with excersise, meh =_=

    (I never drink any sort of fizzy stuff. It’s sweet and disgusting :)

  • Neil

    Actually, it looks pretty good to me, but I need it warmed up and served with the head of Alfredo Garcia.

    Seriously though, I don’t have much problem with anti-whatever ads…in theory. Free speech and all, you know. I believe that the first amendment covers gross-outs. Some of the anti-marijuana commercials are funny as all heck, although filled with lies and distortions. The BIG problem I have is that they are usually funded by taxes. I’m pretty liberal, and I support many social services beyond just police and public school, but this kind of thing coming out of public funds is a ridiculous abuse, an authoritarian perversion of free speech in a supposedly free country. If the do-gooders who waste this money would spend it instead on more recovery programs for real addicts, or targeted health education programs some actual good might come of it at least, but all this does is line the pockets of advertising companies with taxpayers’ money and give people something over which they will probably just laugh or be mildly grossed out.

    If people think this issue is so important, they should pony up the money themselves instead of using a government agency to force people to pay for and see a message that most probably don’t even care about.

    I will admit my biases-I am an unrepentant smoker, soda drinker, beer drinker, and think that most recreational drugs should be decriminalized. I’m used to having my bodily freedom pissed all over by self-righteous authoritarian prigs, but I will never willingly support it. I will probably have to quit smoking soon, against my will, simply because a few worthless behavior nazis can’t keep their thieving, self righteous hands out of my wallet. I already pay unjustified, incredibly high “sin” taxes on every beer I drink and every cig I smoke, and most of it is used not to help addicts or anything useful, but to support a failed bureaucracy and give aid to political causes that paint me as some kind of monster simply because I don’t agree that pleasure is evil, or that my body is property of the state. I guess I’ll be paying more for my Coca Cola soon as well! Free speech shouldn’t mean that petty puritans get to speak for free, all day every day, at MY expense.

    Side note-I love the name of the organization: NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene. Very aptly named. Not only are they concerned about your health, they want to make sure that you are thinking pure thoughts as well. It makes me want to tie them up and blow cigarette smoke in their faces until they cry, and then when their throats get dry, make them beg for a Pepsi.

    One suggestion for anyone having trouble kicking the soda habit: if you can find them, a few companies make flavored seltzer waters that have a little fruit essence, but no real sugar and no artificial sweetener. I for one can’t stand diet sodas-even the newer fake sweeteners taste nasty to me. Flavored, unsweetened mineral waters are a little bitter, but there is no funky aftertaste as with diet soda, and they still have the “kick” or the “burn” of a carbonated soda. They were really popular in the 80′s, but a bit hard to find now. I believe that Calistoga and Arrowhead still make them, but I can only find them at Costco. Most small retailers only sell regular or diet soda these days, or kidney-killing energy drinks, or ridiculous vitamin enriched “healthy” drinks, unfortunately.

    One further note- If sodas were still made with real cane sugar, they would still be bad for you, but not as bad. New research is showing that high fructose corn syrup burns in the body more like alcohol than sugar, turning to fat more rapidly than cane sugar. Cane sugar tastes better, too.

    OK, all done. I just loves me some carbonated beverages.