Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Media Moment -- "Losing Weight Like A Man"

First, let's take a look at this:

While on the surface, there isn't really anything wrong with this commercial. When looking at the campaign, however, Weight Watchers is really pushing weight loss -- which comes as no surprise -- but for men.

This very specific ad campaign has an emphasis on a few points they can't seem to reiterate enough: It's easy, you don't have to give up the food you love (for men), and generally machismo role models aren't scared to lose weight using Weight Watchers.

That's fine; but beyond what's being said in the campaign, what is it insinuating about the opposite gender? Is this ad campaign effective, or is it simply masked misogyny saying that taking care of yourself is "womanly" or otherwise effeminate? Is it okay for women to give up foods or practices they love, but men shouldn't have to, and thus demand a "special" program? Hell, who says that women don't like things easy like Charles Barkley?

I'm not one to be too picky about something as seemingly banal as this, but it's something to think about.



  1. Hello.

    I understand where you are coming from on the gender point, but if you consider all the other Weight watchers commercials they are all geared toward one gender as well. It was not until recently that the commercials began mixing genders in their commercials and even still it is heavily biased to women. I believe the add was created because there are many men that need to get in shape as well as women,even though society puts less pressure on men. I think the commercial was meant to encourage men who do not enjoy working out to at least eat healthy. However, I do agree they went about it in the wrong way. "Lose weight like a man" may be catchy but it buys into the stereo type of all men acting one way-the arrogant and macho way. Also, even though men feel that they need their own program they really don't, it all plays into the stereo type of what men should be like and what they are "entitled" to.

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  2. The first thing I thought when I saw this ad was, "You can't be serious!"with a good chuckle. Weight Watchers, probably since it's birth, has been targeted towards women- never, until now, had there been an ad for guys. With that being said, I don't think this campaign message asserts that taking care of yourself is "womanly"at all- it's socially acceptable for a man to do just that except they'd be using different methods (pumping iron, drinking protein shakes etc). Very rarely do we hear men dieting or watching their calorie intake.

    What I do think this ad is trying to do is simply incorporate a new target audience. They definitely did a good job on the spokesperson seeing as Barkley is a well-known basketball player who speaks his mind and is known for having one too many burgers and tacos. I still think however, the stigma about Weight Watchers being a "woman-only" dieting program will take a lot more than just Barkley and their "Losing Weight like a Man" slogan.

  3. Does anybody find it weird that there has to be a whole new campaign though to dissociate Weight Watchers from the idea of the feminine or "women only" bias?

    Why aren't there simple statistics used, that are easily attained through health professionals or fitness studies? As a field that lends itself to science, is it necessary to embellish the gender differences when more empirical evidence is available?

    Speaking from an entertainment perspective -- of course. People want to see this difference, and have faces and genders and other identifiable traits placed onto a campaign because people are naturally easier to empathize with than graphs.

    Although to simply say "Lose Weight Like a Man" versus "Lose Weight Like a Responsible and Healthy Person" is a clear marketing trick, but also a misnomer. While there are differences biologically in how men and women lose weight and shape up, it is still a ubiquitous concept that is not considered through such a campaign, and instead focuses on micro issues like "can I still eat meatballs?"

    So I give this campaign a pass for being media savvy and effective in that way, although the gravity of what obesity is and how it affects everyone is lost.

    But whatever gets people signed up is fine, right?