Facebook Twitter

BYU advertising students combat childhood obesity

SHARE BYU advertising students combat childhood obesity

Work done by students in BYU's Advanced Advertising Lab was unveiled Feb. 1 when U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt introduced a new nationwide campaign to combat childhood obesity.

Jeff Sheets, director of the BYU lab, and Blake Hadley, a senior majoring in advertising, were on hand at the Washington, D.C., press conference when Secretary Leavitt discussed the goals of the Ad Council's Coalition for Healthy Children, which includes promoting better nutrition and more physical activity to children and parents.

The BYU students involved in the lab were recently charged by the Ad Council, a non-profit organization committed to effecting positive social change, to create a logo and slogan to promote energy balance.

Their slogan — "Eat well, play hard, make it balance" — resulted from research aiming to find what could help parents and youth understand the complexities of energy balance. "It's not just coming up with a logo and slogan," Brother Sheets said. "You have to find out what will make people want to implement these changes."

The ad lab is one of only three advertising agencies working with the Coalition for Healthy Children; the other two are nationally recognized McCann Erickson and GSD&M.

"To be one of the ad agencies involved is as good as it gets for students," Brother Sheets said. "We're on a national platform with two top players."

And the work produced by the ad lab didn't disappoint, said Heidi Arthur, the Ad Council's senior vice president for campaigns.

"We thought it was wonderful," she said. "They really understood the issue, they did their research and they were flexible with feedback we gave."

Each ad agency involved created logos and slogans that will now be used by other members of the coalition, including General Mills, Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Subway, TIME and a number of other marketers, media, nonprofits, foundations and government agencies. The coalition's campaign is nabbing some extra attention because of an endorsement by Shrek, the Dreamworks ogre, who will be joining the fight against obesity in a number of ads.

With childhood obesity rates at an all-time high, Brother Sheets said he and the advertising students involved feel privileged to have worked on a project aiming to combat the problem.

"An advertising degree should teach how to uplift and share morally responsible messages to benefit people," he said. "And a project like this has a lot of potential for impact, so this is a very good place for BYU to be."