Battle of the Resolutions

It’s the time of year when we’ve all decided we hate ourselves so much that everything about us must change. So we make New Year resolutions and cry when we’ve failed at them all by the first week of February and have to wait a whole 11 months to try again.

When it comes to resolutions for the New Year the laziest among us head straight for The Big Three – Lose Weight, Quit Smoking and Drink Less. But taking them all on at once is a definite recipe for failure, unless you have the willpower, recipe book and wallet of the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow.

Lucky for us the PR machines for all three are in full swing by the time January 1st swings round so we thought we’d take a look at which campaign we’d back (if we could only choose one) based on their communications prowess.

Lose Weight

They say you know that it’s January because the gyms are suddenly full, but hitting the treadmill isn’t the only way to shift the pounds.

The word of the moment is ‘detox’ and not because everyone thinks it’s a good idea. Juice cleanses in particular are getting the brunt of bad PR, although there’s little evidence to suggest they’re inherently ‘bad’ for your health, they’re not exactly the magic cure they’re made out to be.

NHS Choices has done a review of the top diets of 2015 that gives a good overview of the pros and cons of each but this will get little to no traction in the media on account of the fact it’s sound advice and doesn’t include a celeb endorsement.

The success of popular diet plans hinges on who shouts the loudest, with the most impressive before and after case study photos and the biggest PR budget, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good idea. Nor does it mean they’ll work for everyone.

The sheer amount of messages about weight loss, often suggesting different advice and approaches, combine to make for a very confused and conflicted public. The weight loss industry is estimated to be worth £220 billion by 2017 thanks to so many big players – the reason being us mere mortals struggle to make sense of it all!

Our verdict: Weight loss comms is all about aspiration and so lends itself well to modern culture but too many conflicting messages about cutting out food groups or only eating that same food group and the idea of healthy eating as a quick fix leaves our heads spinning.

Don’t bother making this a big deal in the New Year. Try to stick to basic healthy eating advice from GPs and pharmacies all year round without succumbing to fads.

Quit Smoking

The Department of Health and Public Health England (PHE) have clearly been talking to Eli Roth and the guys behind the Saw films because both their latest ads are just about the grossest we’ve seen.

But do scare tactics even work anymore? Smoking is bad for you but it’s also an addiction – can the sight of some rotten flesh inside a roll-up or the fact that every 15 cigarettes cause a cell mutation that could lead to cancer really end someone’s love affair with nicotine?

We’d like to think so, and with more aides than ever before to help people quit in a way that suits them, including patches, gum, sprays and the much-debated e-cigarette market, there’s never been a better time to try.

Our verdict: We buy it. The messaging is powerful and clear – one in two smokers die as a result of their habit, quit or be one of them. Visually this campaign is hard hitting for smokers but also non-smokers who are desperate for a loved one to quit. Scare tactics might be an oldie, but they’re also a goody, and the decline in smokers over the last 10 years proves that this line of messaging has an impact.  

Drink Less

Alcohol is the last socially acceptable drug habit to have but recently it’s been under threat. Whilst the health benefits have always been acknowledged, the societal pressures to drink less are slowly coming to the fore.

Which means that ‘Dry January’ is now a thing. It has good intentions – intended to raise money for various charities – and nicely bookends Christmas/New Year as the partner of ‘Sober October’.

There’s a worry that once the clock hits midnight on the 31 January that those taking part will begin a 24-hour booze binge, and for those who have seen it as a challenge that may be the plan.

However, this kind of thing isn’t going to work for people who need more than a challenge for charity to reduce or completely stop drinking alcohol. The marketing around these challenges can also make it hard for people struggling with alcohol addiction to accept the seriousness of their problem.

Our verdict: Still a newbie when it comes to New Year comms but we predict big things as more charities jump on the bandwagon and use it for fundraising. One to watch but until then, pour us another glass, we’re done.