Monday, October 11, 2010

Weight Loss and Agency

I saw this excellent billboard ad today for the lap band. The slogan read as follows:

'Diets Fail! The Lap Band Works!'

I just loved the attribution of agency in the first part. The diet, that inanimate abstract object, is failing. How exactly the diet fails is not clear, but it's certainly not your fault. You have nothing to do with it.

Compare the following alternative formulations:

'You fail at dieting!'
'You fail to lose weight!'
'You fail to stick to your diet!'

These would suggest that:
a) that you need to try harder, although
b) your cause is probably hopeless anyway

neither of which spurs one to buy expensive surgery.

I have a lot of sympathy for overweight people, and I'm far from sold on the 'fatties just need to try harder' school of thought. That said, ignoring any choice component at all is a hilarious stroke of marketing genius.

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