City's latest ads target soda, juice
The city’s latest gross-out ad campaign, which targets sugary drinks from soda to bottled iced teas, seems to condemn some of the same beverages once sold in schools and city buildings as part of an exclusive contract with Snapple.
The new subway ads, which went up Monday, feature a graphic image of a hand pouring human fat – yellow and viscous with red veins, blood vessels and all – into a glass accompanied by the words: “Are you pouring on the pounds?”
Under a controversial deal with the beverage maker Snapple that expired this year after lackluster sales, the city put vending machines in schools and municipal buildings that sold water and fruit juice.
The Health Department, while noting that juice is more nutritious than soda, said it “is just as rich in calories” and encouraged people to stick with water, seltzer or low-fat milk. Even sports and energy drinks like vitamin water should be avoided, health officials said.
City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside), who supports the new ad campaign, said it is ironic that the city was promoting the Snapple drinks until this year.
“It was out of step from Day 1 with nutrition experts,” he said of the contract.Even though the contract is over, there’s still a Snapple machine in the basement of City Hall that sells mostly water with the exception of one fruit drink. The Education Department said in the spring it planned to put healthier drinks in schools starting this fall.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined to comment and the health department did not address that issue.
Health officials did say the images used in the $277,000 ad campaign are meant to cause a jolt.
“It has a very strong effect and it calls attention to the issue that we want,” said Cathy Nonas, director of physical activity and nutrition at the health department. “We focus grouped this.”
The campaign, which includes 1,500 subway posters and will run for three months, is part of a trend in shock advertising by the health department, which has also run graphic anti-smoking spots.
“Oh, that’s disgusting,” said Sarah Sweeney, 26, of Manhattan, when shown a copy of the ad. “I don’t’ know if this is the most effective way of doing things.”
The health department said its surveys found more than 2 million adult New Yorkers drink at least one sweetened drink a day, adding as much as 250 calories to their diet from the beverages. The highest rates were in the Bronx, the lowest in Manhattan.
The ads, officials say, are to remind people that what you drink can be as fattening as what you eat.
A spokesman for the American Beverage Association called the ads “sensationalism.”“They’re bypassing an opportunity to have a more substantive discussion,” said the spokesman, Kevin Keane.
But Florajn Shotha, 23, of the Bronx, said she thought the ads did the trick. “It’s a good idea,” she said. “So many people die a year from sugar and diabetes.”
Marlene Naanes contributed to this story