Full of crap: New campaign crushes young men's glorified perception of sugary drinks

8 February 2021

A counter-campaign hijacking sugary drinks companies' manipulative marketing and advertising tactics has hit digital platforms across Australia, urging young people to rethink their sugary drink consumption.

The campaign, delivered by the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance, aims to grab the attention of young males, Australia’s largest sugary drink consumers, in order to shine a light on the glorified ways sugary drink companies depict their products and the health harms associated with drinking them.

Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink, said while the campaign imagery isn’t easy on the eyes or ears, the ad is designed to cut through the polished imagery that this audience is bombarded with from sugary drink companies and highlight how they’re being conned.

“We know young Australians are hooked on sugary drinks. One in six teens down at least 5.2 kilograms of added sugar from sugary drinks alone every year.

“Getting swept up by the beverage industry’s marketing game could mean young Aussies have signed themselves up to unhealthy weight gain, increasing their risk of battling serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and 13 types of cancer later in life.”

Obesity Policy Coalition Executive Manager Jane Martin praises the way the advertisement cuts through naturally to capture younger Australians’ attention.

“The Full of Crap campaign ironically plays on the iconic sonic branding sugary drink companies throw at young adults to buy their products. The surprising and humorous approach mocks the beverage industry’s seductive narrative and delivers the hard truth to young Australians - they’re being conned into believing these products are must-haves, when in reality they’re sucking down more sugar than they may realise.”

While highlighting the short and long-term health risks associated with drinking too much sugar is a great start, Ms Martin wants to see government leadership in stricter labelling around sugar content.

“We need government to set higher labelling standards that put sugar content, in teaspoons, front and centre of the product to cut through the marketing spin rolled out by these companies,” Ms Martin said.

“We know men are twice as likely as women to consume sugary drinks, so targeted campaigns like this are crucial if we want to stop Australia’s sugary drink problem. Investment in public education campaigns is also important to support people to cut through the marketing spin rolled out by processed food and drink companies and expose the health impacts of unhealthy diets like this one does,” Ms Martin said.

As one in three males aged 15-34 (32.1%) have untreated tooth decay Dr Mikaela Chinotti, Oral Health Promoter at the Australian Dental Association, a Rethink Sugary Drink partner, has seen the devastating impact sugary drinks has on teens and young adults’ teeth and wants Australians to consider the health consequences of drinking too many.

“Some people may not realise every time they take a sip from a sugary drink that they expose their teeth to an acid attack, dissolving the outer surface of our tooth enamel.

“This regular loss of enamel and exposure to sugar can lead to tooth erosion and cavities, which can cause teeth to become very sensitive, painful or even affect their appearance.”

Dr Chinotti said the campaign offers yet another reason for Australians to rethink their choice of drink.

“Simply cutting back on sugary drinks or removing them entirely from the diet, will allow our teeth to be much stronger and healthier. By not falling for the nonsense sugary drink companies are selling and going for water instead, your body will thank you in the long run,” Dr Chinotti said.

The campaign will run for three weeks and will be seen across digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and shared widely on social media by health and community organisations.

A dedicated campaign website  will provide information about how to make further small lifestyle changes to improve health.

Full of crap - Video still 

Above: Still from Rethink Sugary Drink’s new digital campaign

Acknowledgements: This campaign has been made possible thanks to funding from nib foundation

About Rethink Sugary Drink: Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Australian Dental Association, Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Healthier Workplace WA, Kidney Health Australia, LiveLighter, Obesity Policy Coalition, Parents’ Voice, The Public Health Association Australia,  The Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the YMCA to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.