Selling Hype To The American Public

Over the past week I have conducted a private study.  I wanted to see how much advertising emphasizing silly “weight loss” and fitness gimmickry there was out there.  To my amazement everywhere I turned there was some ad selling weight loss and fitness hype.  I am really not surprised by this.  If I owned a company that sold magazines I would hire the best advertisers and marketers to help me sell many copies so I could get rich.  It is no wonder why advertisers and marketers make so much money working for the big corporations and magazine companies. I can just hear them in the board meeting now.

“So ladies and gentlemen of this big magazine company, how do we sell more magazines?” Then Eugene, a Harvard graduate, would raise his hand and suggest, ” I think that the best way to sell magazines is to sell the idea of weight loss regardless if it makes sense or not. Most Americans are suckers and if we put “weight loss” on the front cover of the magazine then we will sell millions and we all become richer.” “Margaret, from house keeping says, ” Why don’t you put “fat loss” instead of “weight loss.?” NO! a despondent Eugene exclaims, that won’t sell magazines! Most people don’t know what fat-loss means, and besides fat loss suggests that the reader is fat, and they won’t buy a magazine that suggests that they are fat. So we must put “weight loss” on the cover. Margaret you should stick with doing what you do best–house keeping and leave the real work to us college graduates, says Eugene–arrogantly.

Then the CEO speaks up and says, “that is a brilliant idea! Let’s do it.  Matter of fact let’s put “weight loss” on the cover as well as a picture of some skinny chic. Now we are selling sex and weight loss. Two of the biggest psychological concerns for most men and woman on the planet. If we pitch the idea that you will look like this chic on the cover from following some silly unrealistic nutrition and exercise program, guaranteeing that  the reader will lose 50-100 pounds of weight in a month, thousands of people will purchase the magazine and we will be even more rich.” Then Suzy from accounting speaks up and adds, ” since I know the profit margin of this company, how about we continue this weight loss myth idea each month, and rather than getting an unknown skinny 18 year old girls let’s try to convince celebrities to join in. I have noticed that Kirstie Allen gains a ton of weight and then loses hundreds of pounds, and then sells nutri system programs and weight watchers programs. She usually will get a magazine cover.Since most people recognize her they will buy the magazine in hopes that if they follow what she did then they are bound to lose weight themselves. Or we can get Marie Osmond who is selling weight loss programs all over the nation. She states that you will lose 50-100 pounds of weight on the program that she endorses.  She even goes as far as getting television air time promoting her sensational weight loss. Showing her self in her tiny black dress. She also shows people that have lost weight and are all extremely lean, healthy, beautiful, and muscularly defined– the way every woman in the world wants to be.  And it is amazing her program guarantees this. This is what we need, we need to sell hype to the American public so that they will go out and spend all of their hard earned money on magazines and programs that sell the concept of “weight loss.”  Then the fearless leader replies, “Suzy you are absolutely correct just like all of you high achieving, highly intelligent college graduates that get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to make this company a butt load of money.”

He continues saying, “Now is there any other way that we can sell more BS to the public so that we can make more money. Remember people it is all about MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!! That is why you are here, that is why you went to college, that is why we are in this business, don’t ever forget that.” Joe from advertising jumps into the conversation and suggests, ” I have a sure winner! How about we sell the idea of calories?  The American public is so fixated on this stupid concept that it is a no brainer.  All we have to do is to blast in BIG BOLD letters on the front cover of our magazines, “Cut the Calories and lose weight.” It is brilliant, we can kill two birds with one stone. We can convince people to eat less calories and they will lose weight.  We put “lose weight” and “calories” in the same sentence and WHAMO we have the American minds sucked right into it.”  They will believe that if they eat less calories that they will lose weight? replies Bonnie, with a perplexed optimistic look on her face. Yes! Joe replies. Sounds great, Bonnie confirms.  So, what you are telling us Joe, replies the curiously approving CEO, even though calories are only a measurement of heat, do you think we can convince the American public to buy into this idea, ultimately selling us more magazines.” Absolutely sir, I bet my years salary on it, and you know how greedy I am and how that would ruin my life. I am so confident in my idea that I am willing to take my chances, Joe enthusiastically replies.

Harold from the psychology department chimes in– “So let me get this straight we are going to sell concepts to people that make no sense what so ever and make a lot of money doing it. You people are bad, but I like it.  You are all correct in the fact that most people have no idea what they are doing when it comes to fitness and nutrition and that they will buy just about anything if it tugs on their own psychological insecurities.  I have noticed from years of studying human behavior that most television ads and magazines target the; insecure, lazy, wannabe fit, wish I was better looking, fat, in a bad relationship,  unhappy, unrealistic, weak, uninformed, sheep like mentality, man and woman. It is true that most ads are geared to reach the intelligent level of a five year old.  So by continuing to pump  these negative ideas into the minds of everyone ages 5-100 then you will be selling magazines and silly useless exercise products for many, many years making you all very rich. I am so glad that I am apart of this wonderful company.  The only suggestion that I will make is that you want to really make the covers pop out. Use brilliant colors, fancy advertising tricks like photo shopping the models and celebrities of any fat areas or blemishes they may have. Because remember it is selling the idea of being “perfect.”

“When the woman at the check out line at the grocery store is waiting to check out and she  is there surrounded by rows and rows of candy and magazines it is the best time for our advertising to kick in. Being in the presence of candy, even if the person doesn’t buy any of it, sets off a sequence in the brain that activates a hunger response.  The receptors in the mouth begin to secrete more saliva and our brain begins to crave sugar. This activation sequence becomes difficult to overcome. The person will then begin looking at the magazines, and will see the covers of half naked women all perfect and pretty staring back at the them.  Since eating sugar, or even thinking about sugar while in the presence of candy, elicits a sympathetic response much like that of fore play or sex.  The visual stimulation of candy and sexy magazine covers take over the thought pattern of the unsuspecting buyer. They become weak and cave in to the overwhelming urge to purchase something– impulse buying. They will, in a haste, grab the mocking candy bar, in addition grab the magazine. In a split moment they have just produced a “hormonal rush.” They have once again fallen victim to another great advertising and marketing scheme. That is how we will continue to sell our magazine, by putting the magazine in areas of stores that people can be manipulated very easily. As being the psychological genius of this company I must come up with great ways to keep these suckers buying our magazine or else I won’t have a job.”

I would like to add something into this discussion if I may,” eagerly says Boris from the history analysis department. It has been proven that the terms, weight loss and calories are the most widely used words on the cover of a fitness, nutrition, nutrition and health magazines. History shows that these terms sell a lot of magazines. Before this meeting I did some research on these words and found that magazines printed covers printed 20 years ago look identical to the magazines sold today, which only proves that the advertising and marketing formula works.”

Thanks Harold and Boris! Well done, responds the proud, portly CEO. So, ladies and gentlemen of this beloved well known magazine, this concludes are board meeting.  Thank you all for your input and ideas. We will follow through with the gimmicks and tricks you have all mentioned to help sell more magazines and to make us all rich.  I hope you all have a great weekend and remember to be here on time monday morning so we can make lots and lots of MONEY!  Remember our motto: As long as the American public is naive and keeps believing in these silly gimmicks and ideas, we will all have jobs and will all be rich… God bless ignorance!

So that is how I suspect a board meeting would probably go in a well-to-do-company.

This has been a fictitious board meeting that I made up.  But I don’t think that I am too far off. So back to my study.  Over the past week I have noticed 10 magazine covers that promote “weight loss” programs, have the calorie way of thinking and all have skinny chicks in bikini’s. I have watched over 8 informercial on “weight loss” and “lose pounds” programs.  I have watched 4 morning television shows discussing the calorie way of thinking and how you can lose weight and drop 10-20 pounds, and I don’t even watch a lot of television.  It is just amazing at how the public is constantly bombarded with the misleading information.  Unbelievable! I just turned on sports center to see the score of the Red Sox game and there is another commercial of a bunch of beautiful, lean, well defined, fit men and women jumping around promoting some sensational exercise program video. The big sales pitch is “lose up to 10-50 pounds on this program.

My question is– lose 10-50 pounds of WHAT??? The ads don’t tell you what you are losing.  Also, what if I want to gain weight.  I don’t see any ads for “gain 10 pounds in 10 days.” Or “I weighed 150 pounds then, now I weigh 200 pounds of pure muscle.”  or, what if I don’t want to lose or gain and just want to train. You don’t see or hear about programs that promote, ” stay exactly where you are in your set point and train.”

Weight loss vs. fat loss.  In the front window of my business I have a giant banner that says “fat loss programs.”  I thought that many people would come in and sign up for the fat loss program that I offer.  However, in the 13 years that I have been in business, not one person has come in to ask me about my fat loss program.  I find this very interesting. I know that if I put “weight loss programs” then many people would come in and ask about them.  So you might be wondering why I don’t do that, put weight loss instead of fat loss.  My answer is simple, I don’t sell something I don’t believe in.  I have probably lost thousands of dollars because I don’t put the catch phrases in my advertising, such as “weight loss”, ” reduced calories” and so on. But I stand firm in my convictions and beliefs about nutrition and fitness and will not succumb to the false advertising schemes of other companies.

Here is another example.  I put up a sign in my gym and in the newspaper advertising for a “FREE FAT LOSS SEMINAR.” I thought that the room would be packed.  Instead no one signed up for the seminar.  Then for the heck of it I changed the wording to say, “FREE WEIGHT LOSS SEMINAR.” Guess what?  The room was packed and I had to limit the sign ups because too many people were signing up. The people signed up because it said “weight loss.” Very interesting…

I know that I could “sell out”  and follow everyone else in selling BS to the public, but my moral and value system just won’t allow me too.  I don’t believe in weight loss and calories myths.  What I teach is correct and accurate nutrition physiology.  Though it is hard making a living being honest and telling people the truth, I will always teach in what I believe.  I devoted 2 years of my life writing DIET EARTH to help people learn the truth about nutrition. Remember folks it’s all about eating your recommended daily allowance of wholesome nutrients, not calories. And it’s about maintaining a healthy body composition of body fat and lean body tissue (muscle) –not weight loss . I hope someday all my rants will eventually get around enough to help change the thinking of the collective unconsciouness of this society. Until then I will have to continue to be annoyed by all the hoopla of weight loss and calorie ads plastered in and on every media outlet.

I just wish folks would understand that it is fat that we want to lose, when the concentrations of it is too high in our body, and that we want to activate and build more muscle.  It really isn’t that complicated!

Daryl Conant, M.Ed

tags: weight loss, fat loss, muscle gain, weight gain, daryl conant, vince gironda, ron kosloff, tiger woods, the masters, day Mclroy, Scott Stallings, Red Sox, Yankees, Manny Ramirez, Vince’s Gym, Diet Earth