Lack of Game Biz Contributions Behind “Early Death” Ad?

Over the last week, several British game industry types have expressed their displeasure over a Change4Life print ad which addresses the issue of childhood obesity by depicting a young boy playing a video game.

Now joining the chorus of those who feel their bread and butter is being unfairly singled out are EA and Ubisoft. Why games? Why not a picture of a kid chowing down on junk food or vegging out in front of the television?

Is there a connection between the ad and the video game industry’s failure to donate to the British government’s health campaign?

Business4Life is a coalition of corporations who have donated a combined £200 million to Change4Life, money which apparently grants them some influence on the direction of the campaign.  These firms include sweets manufacturers Cadbury’s, Mars and Nestle, soda maker’s PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, and TV companies BSkyB, Channel 4, five, ITV, Virgin Media and Viacom.

Jane Holdsworth, marketing director of Business4Life spoke to MCV about the lack of participation from game companies:

It’s a shame – a combination of us not having contacts and games companies not coming forward.  We would be delighted to have the games industry involved in future. Our members meet regularly with the Department Of Health, and are given opportunity to express opinions about upcoming campaigns – which helps avoid nasty surprises.


It’s irrational and grossly unfair to pick on a single product like that. I’m surprised, because the Department of Health’s own research shows negative advertising is not effective.

For its part, Nintendo has expressed interest in opening up discussions with Business4Life.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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  1. State says:

    I don’t know how many times this has to be said but the games industry was never asked to donate. So they are not being attacked because they didn’t donate (how can you attack someone for not doing something that you never asked them to do in the first place?). Business4Life even stated that they didn’t have any contacts.

  2. shamrock says:

    My comment is nothing special. But… of course Nintendo’s name is mentioned here. Wii’s for everyone. It should be part of school programs. Shouldn’t it? Nintendo now stands for excercise first, gaming secondary. Lame.

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  3. McDaddy says:

    Thank you, GusTav 2, for posting the quote from Whoever wrote it was dead on. As long as this industry and its followers continue to whimper and moan about every perceived misjustice, it will gain little if any respect from legislators, much less the general public.

    The people at Change4Life, especially the ad agency, must be laughing themselves all the way to the bank. They couldn’t buy this kind of publicity in a million years. Even if all the gaming industry complaints stopped today – and that’s unlikely to happen, given how tightly conspiracy theorists hold onto their ghosts – the campaign has gained more exposure than its creators could ever have imagined.

  4. Neeneko says:

    While it is unlikly, I really hope Sony’s lawsuit bears some fruit.   It would be so poetic if the orginization that requires ‘donations’ in order to not level it’s moral crusade against an industry then had to pay that industry for it’s actions.

    Now of course if they were not a government entity (and outside the UK) this kind of extortion could potentially result in fines or jail time if someone really wanted to press it.

  5. DarkSaber says:

    So the message is clear. "Give us a cut of your pie and we wont make you look bad."


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  6. TBoneTony says:

    Also does anyone else know about the Tall Poppy syndrome?

    Basicly anyone or anything that is considered to be more popular is most often attacked by people who don’t like it.

    So if you have something that you really like, and it is becoming popular with many people, you will always have other people who just bash it because they are just sore losers who can’t understand why something other than themselves is more popular.


    Also popularity is not always good, as with Movies, TV, Comic, Music and everything else that has been attacked, often the people who attack the popular things are some of the most saddest people in the world.


  7. Obi says:

    He never said that.  o.O;

    Both obesity and things like school shootings are innaccurately blamed on video games, but one of them can be prevented if parents pay attention and the other is actually an effect of mental unhealth (which even the best parents cannot always prevent, and sometimes kids are sick because of their parents, but that’s another topic).  I’m pretty sure he just said game companies should contribute to the more meaningful cause.

  8. DarkSaber says:

    That’s because you made a masisve mistake when you put the words in his mouth that game cause mental health issues. What he actually said was that he saw more benefits in game companies supporting mental health charities instead of some ‘don’t eat junk food’ style ad campaign.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.


  9. DarkSaber says:

    Doh, should have read the comments before posting pretty much exactly what you said!


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  10. E. Zachary Knight says:

    So, its extortion then. "Either join us and donate with us or you will be attacked in all our ads." Sounds like fun.

    I’m surprised, because the Department of Health’s own research shows negative advertising is not effective.

    I said pretty much the same thing in the last article covering this.

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  11. State says:

    The key point is this, which is different from MCV. The games industry is not being directly attacked because they did not donate, it’s not as though the campaign team went "we should attack the games industry because they didn’t donate", but rather that because they weren’t at the meetings they didn’t have any influence over the campaign.

    People here and on MCV make it sound like the advert was revenge for the games industry not donating (when it was never invited to do so, so they never refused to donate, they just weren’t asked), they believe that there an an anti-gaming conspriracy, when there simply isn’t. There is no blackmail plot.

  12. Zephyrus says:

    well, look at it from their perspective, it just don’t make business sense to try and lay some blame on the companies that are giving them money, i mean, seriously, it’s not like junk food ever made someone obese, it was those damn videogames

  13. Magic says:

    I’d rather game companies set the record straight with Business4Life rather than donating money in exchange for ‘influence’ in the campaign. That doesn’t seem right to me, or maybe I don’t know enough about these business deals.

  14. State says:

    From other thread on the article:

    That is an interesting read, whilst I disagree with the editorial that MCV took over the report and does raise interesting points.

    Conspiracy theorists will no doubt say that the games industry has been directly targeted (again it is "just do nothing" instead of "just play games", so I disagree that games are being directly targeted rather it shows one aspect of a lazy lifestyle, whilst criticising fat inside people’s bodies) because it hasn’t donated, but they were not asked to donate, so it’s not as though they refused to donate, so it’s not blackmail. Other theorists will say that that all the industries that donated are anti-games.

    What is likely to have happened here is that they wanted a advert (part of a much larger campaign, let’s not forget) with an image of a lazy activity. As TV companies donate, they would have been against showing a kid watching TV, as snacks firms were involved they would have been against showing snack foods (there is an advert with a non-descript cake as that can’t be referenced directly back to one of the donors), so the only lazy activity they were left with was gaming. But again there is no direct attack on gaming (which many people are assuming). No doubt if the games industry had donated this advert wouldn’t have existed (but again they weren’t asked to donate).

    What it does show is why there hasn’t been any reference to any sort of activities in the campaigns, they don’t state TV watching, snack eating causing obesity (although they don’t explicitly state games either) and this is due to the donations. So the credibility of the campaign is seriously damaged if the industries which are part of the problem have their say in the campaign.

  15. TBoneTony says:

    Also good article from GamesIndustry biz.

    Covered from both angles.

    Still, when I was younger, I often played Sport and even when I was gaming, I was still playing sport because I was in school.

    It was not videogames that was the problem, in fact, the fun of playing a videogame is the same sort of fun that I enjoy when I used to play sport in school and if only I was able to play in the same sport again, I would still do that.

    Also I loved Wii Sports as that made me still play some of the sports I loved to play but now I could do it both being active and also playing a videogame.


    But not all sports can be played as active videogames, so that is why we always have a controller.

    Also do you often see the physical injuries while people play professional sport?

    Not so much with Videogames except for a sore thumb and also eye strain. But everything has some sort of injury.

    All I am saying is that trying to blame something for childhood obesity is never going to solve anything.

    Just get back to the basics and focus on what you CAN do, not on what you shouldn’t.

    Like the book once said, Everything bad is good for you.


  16. TBoneTony says:

    the real point here is, that no matter what happens

    these sickos at Change4Life will always portray Videogames as a bad thing.

    This is what government organisations do.

    After what happened to smoking and also with the Erin Brokovich situration, large successful corporations have had their imaged tarnished and being percived by many parents as EVIL when in actural fact many people behind those industries worked their butts off trying to make a company and their success is only a tall poppy target for those who are looking for someone to blame everything bad on.


    Also if Change4Life is going to blackmail the Videogame Industry all because they don’t want to donate money to them? Well it just shows what sort of people these government agencies are at Change4Life.


    Although that is just my opinion, but it still sucks in a day where we have Dance Dance Revolution and also Wii Fit, we still see some people holding onto these outdated stigmas of Videogames.


    And eventually, even if they do get funding or not, they will eventually fail because most gamers and people who love gaming will just ditch these adds as nothing but political propaganda for what they are.



  17. State says:

    It’s not blackmail because they weren’t asked to donate in the first place, so it’s not as though they refused to donate and the campaign is targetting them because of that.

    And whilst you refuse to accept that games help to cause obesity you willingly accept that they damage kids’ brains and make them pyscho, I don’t understand the logic.

  18. Larington says:

    This stings, its basically a kind of political blackmail, either you pay them money and they be nice to you (IE over-the-top adverts can be toned down) or you don’t and you could get called out or targeted by change4life over not being a contributor to the program.

    Me, I’d much rather see the games industry putting money forward for youth mental health care programs, since those are liable to have much more tangible benefits and could prevent needless school shootings. Whereas, if parents are too bone-headed to be responsible with their children, a marketting campaign they may not even notice/see is going to have mixed results, especially when the advertising itself has… flaws….

  19. GusTav2 says:

    There is another interesting view of this debacle on here:

    A brief exerpt:

    "I’m loath to fall back on a "have your cake and eat it" metaphor in an argument about childhood obesity, but it fits the situation all too perfectly. The industry, it seems, is perfectly happy to boast of being one of the most popular, if not the most popular, forms of entertainment for children and young people. When that position, however, places it in the line of fire as part of the health services’ long-running campaign to get children to engage in more healthy activities, the industry wants to be able to adopt a hurt expression and point the finger at the "real culprits" in television and, er, book publishing.

    You can’t have it both ways. If videogames are the most popular form of entertainment for kids (or damned near to being so), then it stands to reason that videogames should be used as an example of the kind of sedentary entertainment which children need to do less of, in favour of more active pastimes. If, on the other hand, videogames are actually deeply unpopular and hardly any children spend a significant amount of time on them, then yes – the industry has been wronged. But in that instance, the industry has also been lying to itself (and everyone else) for the last decade."

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