U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Partners with Ad Council and DreamWorks to Combat Childhood Obesity
PSAs featuring Shrek characters urge kids to "Be a Player. Get up and play an hour a day."
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 1, 2007 / PRNewswire / â The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ad Council joined with DreamWorks Animation SKG today to launch a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to help address childhood obesity. Featuring characters from the movie Shrek, the PSAs are an extension of HHS' ongoing "Small Step" Childhood Obesity Prevention campaign, which encourages children and families to lead healthy lifestyles. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt unveiled the ads at a press conference in Washington, D.C. this morning.
The new PSAs, using the slogan "Be a Player: Get up and play an hour a day," urge all children to engage in physical activity. The PSAs will complement the current "Can your food do that?" PSAs which promote the benefits of eating healthy foods. Created pro bono by ad agency GSD&M, the ads include television, outdoor ads and web banners, which direct children and families to visit HHS's newly redesigned website, www.HealthierUS.gov, for suggestions on a healthier lifestyle. The Cannery, a west coast online development firm, created the new homepage, along with a kid's website at www.smallstep.gov, which includes games and activities to support the new PSAs.
"We are pleased to collaborate with DreamWorks Animation SKG to address childhood obesity and possibly thwart the onset of chronic disease," said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. "I hope to find innovative ways to work as partners with many other companies in creating a culture of wellness. I am a strong supporter of the President's HealthierUS initiative and encourage all Americans to be physically active every day; eat a nutritious diet; get their preventive screenings; and make healthy choices."
According to HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. More than 10 million school age children in Americaâ18 percent are considered overweight. In addition to the psychological and social issues of stigmatization, overweight children are at far greater risk of growing into adults who have cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases that may reduce the length and quality of their lives.
During the event, Secretary Leavitt announced campaign support from member companies of the Ad Council's Coalition for Healthy Children. The Coalition was initiated in 2005 to help combat childhood obesity by developing consistent, research-based messaging for marketers, media, government agencies, non-profits, academics and the private sector. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided support for the Ad Council's research and development of these health messages, which will ultimately be disseminated to the public by Coalition member organizations such as PepsiCo, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Coca-Cola, SUBWAY, McDonald's, American Heart Association, Girls Scouts of the USA, Shaping America's Health, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Univision Communications.
During 2007 and 2008, the Coalition will provide messaging and creative material for its members to utilize in their own communications, including an online presence across major marketers, non-profits and government agency websites, in-store and on-pack promotions sponsored by advertisers and significant media commitments. These materials will support the work of HHS and extend the "Be a Player" message, some of which will reach consumers in the first quarter of 2007. Further details regarding Coalition member support can be found in the accompanying quotes from organization spokespersons.
"Despite all of the emphasis focused on childhood obesity in our country during the last several years, many children and families are still not making the necessary changes to lead healthy lifestyles," said Ad Council President and CEO Peggy Conlon. "We are delighted to continue our partnership with HHS with this new series of PSAs that are both motivating and entertaining for children. I am confident that this work, combined with the wonderful efforts of our Coalition, will have a significant impact on this epidemic."
Using the Ad Council's model, all of the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media. Several media companies have made commitments to donate time and space to support the PSAs. These media companies include Nickelodeon, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Turner Broadcasting System, Univision Communications, Discovery Communications, Azteca America, Comcast Spotlight and Cox Communications.
"DreamWorks Animation is pleased to support HHS and the Ad Council on this important initiative," said company chairman Roger Enrico. "We can think of nothing more important than the well-being of our children. It's a delight for us to be able to share Shrek, Donkey and other great movie characters to help encourage kids to play and be active."
"We were honored to be asked to help with this campaign with some new partners and DreamWorks," added Roy Spence, president and founder of GSD&M. "Using Shrek and all the wonderful characters in this creative collaboration was the perfect way to show children why it's important to get out and play."
In addition to the new Shrek creative, the Ad Council and HHS are continuing their Small Step Obesity Prevention PSAs with new work (television, radio, outdoor, Web) expected to launch in April 2007. In an effort to further the reach of these ads and generate excitement among youth, HHS will partner with YouTube for an online video contest beginning in Spring 2007 that will encourage participants to submit videos based on the Small Step content.
The Obesity Prevention campaign launched in March 2004, targeting adults, and focuses on the power of small steps taken regularly. The campaign expanded its target to children in the fall of 2005 and currently aims to encourage all children and families to lead healthy lifestyles. Since the campaign launch, the PSAs have received more than $270 million in total donated media support. Additionally, the campaign website, www.smallstep.gov, attracted an average of 190,000 visits per month during 2006.
For more information about the Childhood Obesity Prevention campaign, and to learn how kids and adults can lead a healthier lifestyle, log onto www.HealthierUS.gov.