Agency Surprised By Backlash Against Ads Mocking Fat Kids
Tel Aviv (AP) – Publicity firm JCDecaux was taken aback by the completely unforeseen reaction to an advertising campaign that distorted the images of children to make them look excessively overweight. The company found itself unexpectedly on the defensive after large swaths of the public expressed disgust at a campaign intended to draw attention to the growing problem of obesity in children, a campaign that revolved around mocking images of fat kids, a development no one in the organization foresaw.
In a statement, JCDecaux apologized for its strategy, saying it had no idea anyone could find offense in the notion that fat children should be mocked. It attempted to explain its actions by noting that no one had ever thought overweight children might suffer disparagement of their girth, so naturally the firm could not expect the public to object to such a series of depictions.
The campaign, plastered on billboards throughout the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, was scheduled to end next week, but the company removed the ads yesterday, replacing them with a self-congratulatory statement about having succeeded in raising awareness of the issue, as if only a small portion of public was aware of children who take up more space, and thus are more visible, than other children. The statement also called on the viewers to make the next move, as if JCDecaux’s job were done, without an indication as to what any “next move” might be.
JCDecaux-Israel’s spokeswoman Mor Bidlio-Beese said the campaign targeted the parents of overweight children, emphasizing the social pitfalls of obesity related to appearance and gait, and the disparagement that such awkwardness would attract. What the firm did not count on, she said, was that people would defend their fellow humans from just that sort of disparagement, pointing out that the last thing an obese child, who already suffers from low self image and motivation problems, needs is more negative input that only serves to make the underlying issues more severe.
“We were dumbfounded,” admitted Bidlio-Beese. “Since when does anyone care about fat people?”
Her remarks to reporters were the source of a second round of opprobrium from all corners, including a Facebook campaign to have Ms. Bidlio-Beese dismissed. Company executives have declined to comment, merely issuing a second press release accusing the media of focusing wrongly focusing on JCDecaux as the story instead of the tens of thousands of obese children in the country who require constant browbeating so they will finally get off their ample derrieres and do something to shed that weight.
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