Critical Media Literacy: Advertising Makes Strange Bedfellows

What’s the most unlikely couple in the history of unlikely couples?

Every now and then you run across an ad that is so blatantly self-deconstructing, so unthinking in its presentation of a self-criticizing image, that all you really need to do is point and say, “Look”:

Or as the website puts it…

The critics said, “No way!” Foodies said it would take a miracle. Dieticians were sceptical but we didn’t take no for an answer. We teamed up with The Biggest Loser and created our healthiest range ever. And we called it the Good Choice Range.

To some of you out there, this might seem like an unusual combination but we begged the guys at The Biggest Loser to be tough on us… and they were. They gave us strict guidelines and after months of hard work, we got our calories right down. We surprised ourselves and blew them away! (Domino’s Pizza)

This is a current ad campaign by Domino’s Pizza, touting a new partnership with the reality TV show, The Biggest Loser. Each week on the show (caveat: no one I know has watched it so my knowledge is based on ads and teasers) – in which overweight individuals (and in one version couples) compete to see who can lose the most weight.

The gist of the Domino’s ad is that you would never have believed they would team up with The Biggest Loser, but they worked hard to come up with relatively low calorie food – and here it is, their “Good Choice Range.” The ads depend for their appeal on the mobilization of knowledge about the show as about losing weight and getting health along with a pre-existing sense of Domino’s normal range as less healthy, as fattening, as a “Bad Choice.” Of course, Domino’s doesn’t say this explicitly – that would be crazy – but it’s what drives the schtick of the team-up with The Biggest Loser.

At the end of the day, this ad campaign functions to a certain extent like the ad for a juice drink saying “now with 5% real fruit juice” – it serves, unintentionally, to draw attention to the deficiencies of the original product.

Nobody is fooled, least of all the audience and fans of The Biggest Loser. Over in the via Forums for The Biggest Loser Australia, a thread has harpooned this ridiculous campaign, comparing it to

walking into a methadone clinic and asking for a panadol
walking into Booth House and asking where they keep their gin.
…or walking into an adult book store and requesting the bible!

Domino’s, you are… The Biggest Loser!

(Nutritional information on Domino’s products can be found here here and for McDonald’s here.)


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