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Special K: The Gains vs. The Pinch

In the 70s and 80s, Special K cereal had America using their fingers at fat calipers to see if they could “pinch an inch” – and if they could, they clearly had to go on a diet that included eating Special K for breakfast. My, how times have changed. Looking at the people in this 1979 commercial, nobody would say they have to lose any weight – but for the first time in global history, deaths from obesity have outnumbered deaths from hunger (by a ratio of 3:1). Let’s face it, today most people would rejoice in pinching ONLY an inch!

As a society, we are fatter than ever – and simultaneously more sensitive about it and proud of it. America has a serious health crisis when it comes to weight management. Rather than encouraging people to “Do the Special K pinch” – knowing that it would likely be discouraging due to the amount they would pinch – Special K has come up with a new approach called “The Gains Project.”

Rather than the hard-hitting pinch approach, The Gains website asks women “What will you gain when you lose?” Users type in a word or a phrase, choose an image to go with it, then have an inspirational self-created graphical meme they can keep for private inspiration or share with the world via social media. The graphic can even be tagged with their name, if they wish.

At the site, women can see and be inspired by the graphics created by others also looking to lose weight – and gain self-confidence, happiness, etc. Why is Special K doing this? As the Gains website states, “Women who think positively are more likely to report success with weight management efforts.” The brand is obviously hoping that their site will inspire people to take a healthy approach to their New Year’s diet resolutions – and to include Special K in that approach.

Will “The Gains Project” drive people to lose weight and drive Special K sales in the process? Let’s hope so. Perhaps this is a case where advertising can actually do as much good for the consumer public as for the brand supplying the message.

~ @AdvertGirl


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