You should definitely feel both insulted and concerned.
“6 weeks ago I have decided start running with Joggo and became fit again. For 20 years, I did no sports at all and peaked weighing 180 lbs. Now, I am at a weight of 140 lbs and feel absolutely amazing.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m so damn tired and frustrated with having toxic diet culture shoved down our throats, day in, day out.
And it’s only gotten worse since COVID, since gyms are routinely closed and many of us have been eating our emotions to mentally survive this pandemic.
Seeing this ad on my Instagram feed last night was (for some reason) the final straw for me.
Take this article both as a social critique of what is toxic diet culture, and also a case study for the worst way to ever market your business, or yourself, online.
Diet culture over-promises disastrous and unrealistic timelines for weight loss.
I well and truly could not believe my eyes.
This ad is legitimately trying to convince me that “Sarah” lost 40 pounds in 6 weeks from running?
Just to put this into some perspective — I am an avid jogger. For the last 10+ weeks (ever since it was finally above freezing in Canada) I have jogged 3–4 times per week, each for a 30-minute session.
I have lost at most 5 pounds in the last 10 weeks.
Mind you, I haven’t been dieting during this time. I have healthy eating habits regardless, but also enjoy a bowl of popcorn a couple of times a week while binging Ru Paul’s Drag Race on Netflix. I’m certainly not restricting myself from any food pleasures of life (ie. snacks and a glass of wine now and again).
The type of weight loss in this ad is not only a dramatic over-exaggeration, it’s downright impossible.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a healthy and realistic weight loss goal would be 1–2 pounds per week.
Not 15 pounds per week, like this ad claims Sarah “achieved”.
The disclaimer says at the bottom that “results may vary due to personal features".
Either Sarah didn’t eat a single thing for 6 weeks, ran the entirety of those 6 weeks, or she lost a limb or two in a horrific accident.
Those are the only explanations for weight loss of this magnitude.
Dieting and fitness are not the same thing.
Take this ad as the perfect example of how to not brand yourself, or any brand you are in charge of.
For one thing, the company’s name is “RunningDiet". That’s just damn stupid and makes zero sense.
Dieting relates to the food you consume. Running is a type of exercise. You cannot diet through jogging, nor can you exercise through dieting. Toxic dieting companies who are trying to make money off of you try to sell exercise and diet as synonymous to add a more positive and “healthy” spin on their harmful narrative.
There is certainly such a thing as healthy dieting,— but this ad, folks, does NOT fall into that category. This ad is 100% from a money-hungry company who doesn’t care about your well-being.
It might seem like I’m nit-picking here, but as consumers, we need to recognize that brands are getting lazy by spamming the hell out of “buzz words". They literally just can’t be bothered anymore with being professional now that they can promote their product or service with just a few clicks.
Buzz words are words that are considered trendy or “fashionable" at any given time. It’s something that is “in style" and will cause a viewer to stop and look. Think of a Kardashian or Trump meme — in our pop culture world, odds are you want to stop and take a look to see if it’s funny. It’s the same idea.
To take the handle of “running", “diet" and “app" and lumping them all together is just a tired and frustrating marketing tactic (if you can even call it that) to tap into an already toxic culture obsessed with weight loss done to unhealthy extremes, trying to pull you in.
Then they deliver this beyond ridiculous, impossible to believe “weight loss story", because we naturally gravitate to numbers in marketing.
6 stands out in a paragraph of text far more than six does, even though they deliver the same information.
This ad is an extreme example, but it just shows that we have to be extra cautious not to believe everything (or anything!) we read in a social media ad.
Odds are, it’s utter garbage.
For all that is holy, if you’re trying to scam people, at least make sure the quality of your ad is up-to-par.
Actually, I take that back, just don’t scam people in general.
But really, this ad infuriates me as a marketing and PR professional in every way, shape, and form.
The irony is, they’re trying to take us for the fool when in all actuality they were too damn lazy to double-check their grammar in their official marketing content. That says way more about them than it does about us.
There are no bigger fails as a brand than blatantly lying to people and getting caught doing it, pissing potential customers off, and all-the-while misspelling sh*t.
This company managed to hit all of those criteria in this one, epic failure of an Instagram ad.
But hey, at least they gave us a direct indication of how unprofessional and sketchy this brand is ahead of time! Usually, we have to try the product or service first to find out.
Let’s just get clear on something :
Any diet brand that is pushing you to unhealthy and death-inducing lengths to drop a few pounds doesn’t care at all about you.
They aren’t interested in you, or your health, or your weight-loss journey… they just want your money.
In fact, money was so obviously their sole motivation here that they didn’t even bother to pay extra attention to the ad they were promoting to you with.
They simply do not consider you worth the effort or the time — they just want you to pay up and shut up.
This is how lazy and unethical marketing online has become and it just goes to show how careful anyone and everyone needs to be on social media when encountering ads from unethical brands.
Because the sad truth is, if someone is desperate enough, they might just fall for this sort of thing and suffer because of it.