Posts Tagged ‘celebrity endorsement’

10:28 am - Posted by Gregg

When I first caught a glimpse of the new commercial featuring Janet Jackson as the latest spokesperson for Nutrisystem, I must admit that I did a double take – thinking I might be watching “Saturday Night Live” instead of the morning news. Was this the same musical celebrity who has been just as famous for going up and down the scale as she is for her musical hits of the 80s and 90s? I stopped my DVR, rewound and watched the advertisement again.

You can check out the add for yourself here:

Let’s ignore the fact that it sounds like someone should have given Ms. Jackson some coffee so she would have sounded awake during the ad and focus on the product for a second. Personally, I have always found Nutrisystem commercials and print ads somewhat comical. Mainly because almost every single one contains the legal line of “”Results not typical. Individuals are remunerated.” Google ‘remunerated’ and you’ll the definition is: “to pay an equivalent for <their services were generously remunerated>”

When payment is involved, one has to wonder about the validity of a weight loss program – or, at the very least, the motivation behind the weight loss. And this is as true for celebrity endorsers as it is for so-called success stories featuring everyday people. I’m not knocking Nutrisystem or Janet Jackson specifically. But you have to question the validity of any diet program that uses a celebrity who’s somewhat notorious for yo-yo dieting (and, rumor has it, allegedly having surgeries to get her abs back into shape). Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) even wrote a book with details about a recent weight loss (with an epilogue written by her personal nutritionist, David Allen).

To read Ms. Jackson’s interview about her dieting methods previous to Nutrisystem: Click Here

Yet now, less than a year after releasing her book, Ms. Jackson is promoting a totally different method of weight loss? This just goes to show you that these so called ‘testimonials’ might not be all they’re cracked up to be. After all, losing weight when you can employ personal nutritionists, chefs and trainers is a whole lot different than receiving a supply of seemingly freeze-dried diet food that’s delivered at monthly intervals in a cardboard box.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Ms. Jackson for being a yo-yo dieter or for trying all sorts of different diets. This makes her “my people” and makes me yearn to do a spin class with her (followed by an immediate jaunt to the nearest frozen yogurt place). I get it. Been there. Done that. And, in some cases, still doing it. I adore Ms. Jackson and feel for her in regard to her being a member of the “Darn, it’s hard to lose weight club.” But I’d feel better taking advice from her if she had kept the weight off for a number of years and was truly walking her talk.

Like Kirstie Alley (promoting her own Organic Liaison diet) and now even Mariah Carey (who, frankly, looks ridonkulous in her barely clad ads for Jenny Craig), I question Ms. Jackson’s sincerity in regard to endorsement vs. spokesperson-for-profits.

It’s reeks of taking advantage of one’s own community in order to make a buck. I don’t know Ms. Jackson personally. So I am trying not to judge her. But as someone who has battled the bulge for years and years (and still must stay very wary of it) and as someone who cares for the health of people with the same challenge, in this particular case, I question her authenticity.

Why the concern? Because these types of celebrity endorsements can lead to heartache for dieters, who believe the hype, try the diet and then wonder why it’s not working for them the same way it’s ‘working’ for a particular celebrity. Well, for starters, us regular folk don’t have a private chef, private trainer or an agent that’s taking a certain percentage of the enormous profits that celebrities are usually paid for lending a famous name to a product. That’s a totally different set of circumstances entirely. So no – it’s not the same as when you and I go on said diet plan.

I suppose this all boils down to the old adage of “Buyer beware.”

We live in a marketing driven society. And the diet industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year one. That means profits, folks. Profits sometimes made at the expense of people like us – the dieter who yearns to lose weight and feel great once and for all.

So, really, Ms. Jackson, what have you done for me – and the dieting community – lately?

How do you feel about Janet Jackson trumpeting Nutrisystem? Or Mariah Carey appearing half naked for Jenny Craig? Are you motivated? Amused? Left feeling ripped off? I’d love to hear what you think. So please, add to my pleasure principle and comment away…

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September 30, 2011

There are no magic wands

9:36 am - Posted by Gregg

When people I’ve recently met find out I’ve taken off over 250 pounds in excess weight and kept it off for over a decade, they excitedly ask me how I did it. Sadly, nothing brings disappointment to their faces faster than me answering, “Eating less and exercising more – along with drinking lots of water and getting plenty of sleep.”

Peoples’ usual responses to my revelation are, “Oh,” – as if I’ve popped their balloon or accidentally stepped on a kitten.

I understand their disappointment. Who wouldn’t want me to answer with, “I found this magic wand and lost all the weight in a day’s time. Here – you can have my magic wand, if you’d like.” After all, we’re all looking for shortcuts in life. So why wouldn’t we want a shortcut to losing weight and getting healthier?

But the fact is, there is no magic wand – and by ‘magic wand,’ I include pills, surgeries, fad diets and other farfetched means that people use in order to try and take off the pounds as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Because of the dieter’s quest for a magic wand, individuals and companies have taken to selling products backed up by often spurious claims that tell us these items might finally solve the dieter’s lifelong effort to take off excess weight. This activity seems quite criminal to me – all conjured up to rob the dieter of his or her hard earned money by playing on their weaknesses and fears as well as their desires for permanent change.

This practice has come to national attention in the last couple of days, now that the Federal Trade Commission has clamped down on Reebok for making what it refers to as “false claims” about Reebok’s popular selling “toning” shoes.

I have to admit that when I first saw these shoes being advertised (by “celebrity” spokesmodels including Kim Kardashian no less), I rolled my eyes. Imagine my surprise when one of my closest friends, who is very athletic, bought a pair, wanting to tone up a bit more. I couldn’t believe my friend was taken in by the claims (not to mention by anything promoted via Twitter by Kim Kardashian).

According to news reports, the FTC has settled a class action lawsuit regarding Reebok’s claims in product ads that its’ Easy Tone and Runtone shoes “strengthen and tone key leg and buttock muscles” [more than regular shoes might]. Reebok is having to pay a $25 million fine while also having to offer refunds to customers (even though reportedly standing behind its technology).

Dr. Cedric Bryant, Chief Science Officer for the American Council on Exercise, has also weighed in on this issue, stating, “The take home message is that whether you walk in normal running shoes or you go out and purchase and make the investment in these toning shoes, you’re going to get similar results and effects.”

My big question is, why wouldn’t any of this be common sense to the consumer – much less the dieter, who surely has tried these ‘magic wand’-type of products before and likely only gained weight?

Sadly, this is just one example of the kind of “magical thinking” we want to believe might set us free from our excess weight. I know people who have ordered horse tranquilizers from Canada, believing claims that they were a celebrity secret for losing and keeping off unwanted weight without dieting. If this seems crazy to you, consider a popular diet pill that’s available at most stores here in the United States, with instructions that warn the user to wear dark underwear due to the risk of “anal leakage.”

Like it or not, much of the blame for products like these being on the market rests with us, the dieting audience. There’s a reason that the dieting business has become a multi billion-dollar a year industry. It’s because we are suckers. And we’re often unwilling to face the hard fact that we are responsible for our excess weight and, therefore, we are responsible for taking it off.

Horse tranquilizers? Anal leakage? Shoes that tone our bodies without extra work from us? Why not just have a salad and go for a power walk instead?

But don’t lose all hope. In truth, ‘eating less and exercising more’ can be a real magic wand of sorts.

Once I stopped trying to trick my body (No carbs! Only grapefruit! Cabbage Soup!) and started eating right and moving more, the excess weight literally melted off within a year’s time. Now, I’m not claiming that you’ll have the exact same results. I had a lot of weight to lose, so the weight came off quickly for me. Everyone has different metabolisms and their bodies will respond differently. But ask any doctor – even someone with a Thyroid condition will lose weight if they eat more sensibly and add working out to their daily routines. No ‘magic wand’ required.

Less tricks. More common sense and self-responsibility. Try it. The results just might be magical.

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September 19, 2011

Shut your big mouth!

9:32 am - Posted by Gregg

For someone who showed us how gracefully she can move across a dance floor, Kirstie Alley seems to be sorely lacking in grace when it comes to real life. I’m not knocking her talents or her beauty (no matter which end of the scale she’s sticking her foot in her mouth on). But these days, I believe Ms. Alley really needs to catch a clue and shut the hell up – because at this point, she seems to be doing more harm to – than good for – the dieting community.

For starters, I would suggest Ms. Alley stop telling us she’s a Size 4. Again, Ms. Alley is a beautiful woman who looks fab for 60. But she’s clearly not a Size 4. And if she is, her dressmakers need some math lessons. And no, it doesn’t matter what dress size she is. But that’s my point. Why not just put on an outfit and look good? Must you trumpet your ‘alleged’ size and, therefore, make others who might not be that size feel inadequate (whether said size is imaginary or not)?

While it was inspiring to see Ms. Alley take off excess pounds while strutting her stuff on “Dancing with the Stars,” she is now even belittling that achievement by appearing on QVC and trumpeting her so-called weight loss products (which include a dietary supplement that acts as a ‘natural colon cleanser’). What?! How about just eating healthy and going for a walk instead?

Ms. Alley’s Organic Liaison seems to be nothing more than a spurious line of products – the same products she’s been going on and on about for years (including while still heavy on her since-cancelled reality show, which aired long before “Dancing with the Stars”). In fact, in 2009 she appeared on Oprah proclaiming, “I’ve lost 20 pounds in the last five weeks,” crediting her Organic Liaisons.

If Organic Liaisons really works, why didn’t Ms. Alley lose weight years before 2011 when she appeared on “Dancing with the Stars?”

Clearly, one of the reasons that Ms. Alley lost weight was due to the movement and exercise (a key component of weight reduction) she endured while going through the rigorous physical requirements that “Dancing with the Stars” demands. And this is really something to celebrate and learn from. But instead of talking about that, she’s babbling about her ‘premier weight loss products and dietary supplements designed to optimize your weight-loss results.’

Yeah, uh-huh. And I’m a Size 4.

Taking off – and keeping off – the excess weight requires no magical elixirs, no magic wand and no constant chatter about “Improving lives organically.” At the end of the day, it’s about eating less, moving more, getting enough rest and drinking plenty of water. In other words, it’s about adopting a healthy lifestyle.

In my experience, overly marketed shortcuts demean a dieter’s efforts and are created to bilk money out of the dieting community. Fact of the matter is, there are no shortcuts when it comes to getting healthy.

It makes me sad that Ms. Alley continues to come across as so inauthentic. She doesn’t seem to be being true to herself, which is likely one of the reasons we’ve seen her bounce up and down the scale for the past decade. Authenticity is key to curing what ails you. It’s about owning up to your part in it and then making real, lasting changes that result in healthy, permanent weight loss (and true success). It also means treating achievements with respect and reverence. In other words, the newly thin Ms. Alley might do better just to sit with her achievement for a while – especially given her history of gaining, losing, regaining and so on. Why not just be still, appreciative and graceful in the moment instead of trying to sell fellow dieters her ‘premier weight loss products and dietary supplements designed to optimize your weight-loss results.’

When I was in college, I had a teacher who required us to keep a journal that she would review from time to time. My entries continually went on and on about wanting to lose weight (page after page). This, even as I got bigger and bigger while going to school. I was all talk, no results.

At the end of the semester, this teacher added an entry to my journal. In it, she suggested that when I was truly ready to lose weight, that I consider not announcing it to the world, but only to myself. To make it a quiet – even somewhat sacred – decision; one that would elicit action rather than words. Although it took a few more years for this to really ‘click,’ her advice resonated with me then – and still does to this day. Since that time I have always strived to be authentic – not only to myself, but also to those around me.

It all comes down to grace – on or off the dance floor. And these days, Ms. Alley is showing anything but.

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