Uninformed advertisers linking games to early death

6 03 2009

Ad campaign

by Matthew Moore

The National Health Service here in the UK are running a campaign at the moment named “Change4Life”.  This worthy cause quotes the following “The way we live in modern society means a lot of us, especially our kids, have fallen into unhelpful habits. This means all of us need to make small changes to eat well, move more, and live longer.”
I’m sure that no one can disagree that modern society has taken a turn for the worst, with childhood obesity hitting an all time high this year its good to see that the government are targeting these issues and giving good advice.

However it would seem that the advertising arm of this campaign are using scare tactics with their latest advert targeted at mothers who read the likes of Star, Reveal and Heat.

As you can see from the above image, a child sat with a Playstation controller has been used to draw parallels between video games and lack of exercise. While I’m sure there are plenty of children and adults out there spending more time gaming than living more active life styles (my self included) the tag line “Risk an early death, just do nothing” should not be attached to gaming on its own.
With gaming now being a past time enjoyed by all just as television alone was a generation ago, the routes of the issue go far deeper than what is depicted here.

Throughout the day there have been meetings between ELSPA (Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) and the government regarding this.  Following the meeting, ELSPA director general Michael Rawlinson had the following to say –
“When we became aware of the adverts we were surprised as they contradicted much of the discussion that we had enjoyed with the Department of Health. We immediately called for an urgent meeting with its officials responsible for Change4Life.
“Following that meeting we have been informed that the ads are the responsibility of the NGOs listed. We are now taking the matter up with these organisations and informing them of the responsible position taken by the industry as demonstrated on our Ask About Games website.”

Later this afternoon MVC (The market for computer and video games) submitted an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority over this very advert on the grounds that the advert is ‘unrepresentative of the positive effect video games have on the UK’s youth’.  While this complaint is no doubt too late to stop this current campaign, it may help the gaming culture as a whole when it comes to drawing such comparisons.

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