• 12.12.13

Hey #Fatty, Special K Wants You To Ease Up On The “Fat Talk”

The cereal brand looks at the impact of negative self-image and talk with a Dove-y campaign.

Hey #Fatty, Special K Wants You To Ease Up On The “Fat Talk”

A new spot for Kellogg’s Special K shows women browsing in a clothing store. But this is no ordinary retail shop–its display signs and clothing labels say things like “Feeling so disgusted at my figure at the moment #cow” and “I have a muffin top.” The shoppers are caught on hidden cameras reacting to these horrifically self-deprecating statements as a voice-over tells us about the impact of “fat talk,” and then has them talk about how the signage made them feel.

The ad, from Leo Burnett and director Peyton Wilson takes a page from Dove’s empowerment playbook to tap into the emotion of self-image and try to align the brand with a solution.

Last year Special K partnered with Dr. Renee Engeln and Northwestern University’s Body and Media lab on a study that found positive thinkers are more likely to succeed when managing their weight and how negative fat talk could be. It found that not only does fat talk makes women feel worse about their bodies, undermine healthy choices and act as a barrier to weight management success, it also has a negative impact on those who overhear it.

The cereal maker is now using those findings in its latest effort to adjust the focus of its long-standing brand image around weight loss and something closer to self-confidence.

“The biggest challenge was starting a conversation around something that hides in plain sight,” says Leo Burnett executive vice-president and creative director Mylene Pollock. “Ninety-three percent of women fat talk, without even realizing it. The brand needed to be provocative to communicate how insidious it is, and also share simple ways to participate.”

In order to give everyone else the ability to recognize and reflect on fat talk as much as the ladies in the video, the brand created the Fat Talk Scale and the Fat Talk Scanner. The Scale measures overall online fat talk in real time, while the Fat Talk Scanner allows you to scan your personal social networks to see which of your friends have been fat talking and let them know.

“These are important parts of the campaign because they make it real and actionable,” says Pollock. “The Scale defines the size of the problem and the Scanner makes it personal, and gives her an opportunity to do something about it.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.