They Have Their Hooks In You…

Pop Quiz: What do these statements have in common?

1) Is your house making you sick?

2) The secret your spouse is keeping from you…

3) The financial mistake that will cost you your marriage.

4) Which low-lying areas will be hit hardest?

If you said that these statements all sound like they could be sound bites for Good Morning AmericaDr. Phil or even your local evening news you’d be right. These phrases are marketing “hooks.”

Now you might be wondering what a media-marketing lesson has to do with weight-loss and Happy Calories Don’t Count – yes? The answer – everything.

You see, although I agree with The Beatles – All You Need Is Love – producers need ratings. Ratings sell advertising. Advertising keeps the television show on the air. And that makes the producers happy.

Now here’s the ironic twist. The producers need ratings to sell advertising to keep their shows on the air, but they’re afraid that we’ll leave the show – and cause a drop in ratings – once the commercials start.

We might change the channel, get up to do something else, or – heaven forbid – turn off the TV altogether. So before they let the show go to commercial break, they “catch” us with a marketing hook. That way we’ll be sure to stay for the following segment. And that keeps the ratings high, which keeps the advertisers happy… and the cycle continues.

I don’t have any issue with this system in particular. What I’d like to point out, however, is that this system perpetuates the weight and body drama so many of us face. Weight loss is a hot topic and  – if they spin it correctly – a big hook. And although oftentimes the information presented in the segment is of little help, the hooks they use to keep us tuned in are significant. They contribute to and compound our “diet and exercise” consciousness.

For example, an episode of The Dr. Oz show segued into a commercial break with “Coming Up: Can this miracle berry help you lose weight?” So of course, me being me, I had to stay to find out what cockamamie idea they were pushing.

They featured some product – which I can’t even recall – that is supposed to make sour foods taste sweet. Now what does this imply? Based on the hook – “can this miracle berry help you lose weight?” – and the purpose of the product – make sour foods taste sweet – it is easy to conclude the following:

1) Sweet foods taste good, but they will make or keep you overweight.

2) Sour foods taste bad, but they will help you lose weight.

3) Comfort causes weight gain.

4) Losing weight requires discomfort.

5) This product tricks you into thinking bad tasting food tastes good – it will make the uncomfortable comfortable and therefore help you lose weight.

Now here’s the interesting thing. During the segment Dr. Oz didn’t mention weight-loss once! He touted the virtues of lemons and white wine vinegar and all the health benefits they provide. He explained that if you put this “miracle” berry on lemons or in white wine vinegar, you might consume them more regularly.

But even though Dr. Oz didn’t actually talk about the potential weight-loss with this product, the seeds for possible weight-loss conclusions had already been planted. And these seeds were planted from that marketing hook.  The producers didn’t care whether or not Dr. Oz was going to actually talk about weight-loss. They just wanted to keep people around after the commercial break.

But sound bites stick with us. And they contribute mightily to our cultural ideas that our weight is simply a result of balancing our calories in and calories out – our diet and exercise. They promote the idea that optimizing our body is hard – but stick around after the commercial to learn how to make it easier.

Changing that mindset is critical if we are to create happiness AND the bodies we desire. And to do this, we need to free ourselves from those hooks.