Poster Presentation Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting

Identifying effective obesity prevention advertisements: focus groups with Australian adults (#225)

Helen Dixon 1 , Michael Murphy 2 , Maree Scully 1 , Mischa Rose 3 , Trish Cotter 4
  1. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  2. Michael Murphy Research, Elwood, Victoria, Australia
  3. Michael Murphy Research, Elwood, Victoria, Australia
  4. World Lung Foundation, New York, USA

Background: This study explored adult’s attitudes and reactions to a range of television advertisements (ads) promoting healthy weight, physical activity and healthy eating.

 Methods: Twenty-four focus groups (N=179) were conducted in metropolitan and regional areas of the Australian states of Victoria, New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland, with participants segmented by sex, education (no tertiary, at least some tertiary) and life stage (young adults, parents).  Each group was assigned to one of the three advertising streams: Weight, Activity, or Nutrition.  Within each stream, five ads were assessed for audience attention, identification, communication, effect, and potential utility. 

Findings: Reactions varied by demographic factors and current weight and lifestyle status.  Participants furthest from achieving public health recommendations for weight, diet and activity responded best to ads involving gentle persuasion and helpful hints.  Participants who were closer to meeting these recommendations reacted to stronger, more graphic and emotive advertising. 

Conclusions: A comprehensive communication strategy around weight, physical activity and nutrition should include four key components: (i) Why is it a problem? (ii) Who is it a problem for? (iii) What should I do about it? (iv) How do I make the changes?  A strategic approach is required for the development of individual ads and whole campaigns, to ensure an appropriate message is delivered to selected target audience segments in the most effective manner.