Saturday, April 20, 2024

New campaign shines light on ‘glorified’ sugary drinks

A counter-campaign “hijacking” sugary drinks companies’ “manipulative marketing and advertising tactics” has hit digital platforms across Australia.

Delivered by the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance, the Full of Crap campaign aims to grab the attention of young males, who are said to be Australia’s largest sugary drink consumers. The alliance hopes to “shine a light” on the “glorified” ways sugary drink companies depict their products and the health harms associated with drinking them.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink, says that while the campaign imagery isn’t easy on the eyes or ears, the ad is designed to cut through the polished imagery that this audience is bombarded with from sugary drink companies and highlight how they’re being conned.

“We know young Australians are hooked on sugary drinks,” he says.

“One in six teens down at least 5.2kg of added sugar from sugary drinks alone every year.

“Getting swept up by the beverage industry’s marketing game could mean young Aussies have signed themselves up to unhealthy weight gain, increasing their risk of battling serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and 13 types of cancer later in life.”

Praise for the advertisement

Obesity Policy Coalition Executive Manager Jane Martin praises the way the advertisement “cuts through” naturally to capture younger Australians’ attention.

“The Full of Crap campaign ironically plays on the iconic sonic branding sugary drink companies throw at young adults to buy their products,” she says.

“The surprising and humorous approach mocks the beverage industry’s seductive narrative and delivers the hard truth to young Australians – they’re being conned into believing these products are must-haves, when in reality they’re sucking down more sugar than they may realise.”

More is needed

While highlighting the short and long-term health risks associated with drinking too much sugar is a great start, Ms Martin wants to see government leadership in stricter labelling around sugar content.

“We need government to set higher labelling standards that put sugar content, in teaspoons, front and centre of the product to cut through the marketing spin rolled out by these companies,” says Ms Martin.

“We know men are twice as likely as women to consume sugary drinks, so targeted campaigns like this are crucial if we want to stop Australia’s sugary drink problem. Investment in public education campaigns is also important to support people to cut through the marketing spin rolled out by processed food and drink companies and expose the health impacts of unhealthy diets like this one does.”

A dental perspective

Dr Mikaela Chinotti, Oral Health Promoter at the Australian Dental Association, a Rethink Sugary Drink partner, has seen the “devastating impact” sugary drinks has on teens and young adults’ teeth.

She wants Australians to consider the health consequences of drinking too many sugary drinks.

“Some people may not realise every time they take a sip from a sugary drink that they expose their teeth to an acid attack, dissolving the outer surface of our tooth enamel,” Ms Chinotti said.

“This regular loss of enamel and exposure to sugar can lead to tooth erosion and cavities, which can cause teeth to become very sensitive, painful or even affect their appearance.”

Dr Chinotti says the campaign offers yet another reason for Australians to rethink their choice of drink.

“Simply cutting back on sugary drinks or removing them entirely from the diet, will allow our teeth to be much stronger and healthier,” she says.

“By not falling for the nonsense sugary drink companies are selling and going for water instead, your body will thank you in the long run.”

Campaign details

The campaign will run for three weeks and will be seen across digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and shared widely on social media by health and community organisations.

A dedicated campaign website will provide information about how to make further small lifestyle changes to improve health.

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