American Heart Association launches 'Bad Fats' campaign

WASHINGTON: The American Heart Association (AHA) recently launched a multimillion-dollar consumer campaign centered on two Web sites: one informational and one animated, both designed to educate consumers about "good" and "bad" fats.

WASHINGTON: The American Heart Association (AHA) recently launched a multimillion-dollar consumer campaign centered on two Web sites: one informational and one animated, both designed to educate consumers about "good" and "bad" fats.

Developed and implemented by Porter Novelli, the three-year Face the Fats campaign tries to describe in an entertaining, engaging way what foods are generally host to trans and saturated fats - the bad ones - and how consumers can balance their diets better without entirely cutting out things they like to eat.

Starring the animated Fats Brothers, Trans and Sat, the www.badfatsbrothers.com Web site gives each type of fat a personality: Trans loves French fries, donuts, and other fried foods and baked goods, while older brother Sat hankers for cheeseburgers, steaks, and ice cream sundaes.

The hope is that the Fats Brothers will prove a good tool for viral marketing, drawing visitors to the site that might not otherwise cares about different types of fats. More detailed information can then be found via a link to AHA Web site, www.americanheart.org, where among other things visitors can use an online "fats translator" to understand their daily limits for different types of favorite foods.

"You've got a group of people who [wouldn't otherwise] be looking up this information, but they may very well be drawn to the Bad Fats Brothers characters just because they are funny and interesting looking," said Shirley Yin-Piazza, senior project manager of trans fat initiatives and integrated marketing at the American Heart Association.

Family members representing other types of fats could be added if the approach proves successful, Porter Novelli partner Dan Snyder said.

Media outreach includes print and TV, as well as a promotional effort involving Food Network chef Alton Brown. AHA advocacy also involves the Food and Drug Administration, restaurant trade associations, state health departments, and food manufacturers.

Funding for the campaign comes from a $7 million lawsuit settlement with McDonald's, which in 2002 was sued by a San Francisco attorney for failing to follow through on a much-publicized promise to cut trans fats from its cooking oil.

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