Countermarketing campaigns use health communications to reduce the demand for unhealthy products by exposing motives and undermining marketing practices of producers. These campaigns can contribute to the prevention of noncommunicable diseases by denormalizing the marketing of tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy food. By portraying these activities as outside the boundaries of civilized corporate behavior, countermarketing can reduce the demand for unhealthy products and lead to changes in industry marketing practices. Countermarketing blends consumer protection, media advocacy, and health education with the demand for corporate accountability. Countermarketing campaigns have been demonstrated to be an effective component of comprehensive tobacco control. This review describes common elements of tobacco countermarketing such as describing adverse health consequences, appealing to negative emotions, highlighting industry manipulation of consumers, and engaging users in the design or implementation of campaigns. It then assesses the potential for using these elements to reduce consumption of alcohol and unhealthy foods.
This guide provides resources and lessons plans for youth organizations, food groups, schools and health departments that want to engage young people in taking action to reduce the demand for unhealthy food. Based on two years’ experience of the Youth Food Educators (YOFE) Program, a project of the City University of New York Urban Food Policy Institute, the guide summarizes what has been learned from these experiences. More than two decades of tobacco control have shown that countermarketing is effective in reducing youth smoking rates. Countermarketing describes health communications strategies designed to reduce the demand for unhealthy products by exposing the motives of their producers and portraying their marketing activities as outside the boundaries of civilized corporate behavior. This guide describes how young people can use this strategy to reduce the demand for processed food products high in sugar, unhealthy fats and salt.
Thirty years of research in tobacco control has shown that countermarketing has been effective in reducing tobacco use, especially among teenagers and young adults. This policy brief by investigators at the City University of New York Urban Food Policy Institute describes some of the key elements of effective tobacco countermarketing campaigns, and examines the relevance of these evidence-based countermarketing practices to unhealthy food and beverages, defined as processed products high in unhealthy fats, sugar, salt and empty calories
“Our children are not replacement smokers!” a protest leader cries in a radio spot, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We have the power!” the crowd responds – which is exactly the point of this unusually aggressive new campaign targeting the tobacco industry’s heavy marketing in low-income and African American neighborhoods. On ads inside SEPTA buses and subway cars, a giant, cuff-link-adorned hand representing the tobacco industry plucks a black teenager from a line of friends, leaving the chalk outline of the teen’s body behind.