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Michael Degnan’s paper!

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Michael Degnan’s Paper!

Michael Degnan

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Josh Mehler

Bowflex’s way of flexing the truth

Every time I see an exercise equipment commercial, I always see people in perfect shape using the machines. The commercials make working out look so easy and imply that pretty much anyone can achieve the “perfect” body by purchasing the product. As I watched several different Bowflex commercials, I noticed they had many common characteristics. There is upbeat music, everyone in the commercials are always smiling, the people using the machines have huge muscles, and consumer testimonials. These characteristics were strategically placed to make Bowflex products look more appealing to the consumer. If I were to create an anti ad, I would do everything opposite of the characteristics I mentioned earlier. I would show over weight people working out on the machines and have them struggle as they work out.

Bowflex has attractive body builders with their shirts off using their machines in the commercials to play on the insecurities of average people and overweight people. It makes the consumer envious of the attractive body builder’s physique, also the simple fact that sex sells works in capturing the consumer’s interest as well.  Imagine if Bowflex commercials had unattractive, overweight people dressed in sweaty gym clothes using their machines. Close up shots of these couples struggling with the machine would give the wrong message to the consumer.  It would definitely not have the same effect as it does when body builders use the machines even though it would be much more realistic. The purpose of the body builders are to make the viewer of the commercials think “Hey, if that person has huge muscles and works out on Bowflex machines, I will get big muscles if I work out on Bowflex machines.” Having a commercial where average people in sweaty clothes used the machines would make the consumer believe using a Bowflex machine would not achieve any results that the out of shape consumer is not already exposed to in their daily routines at the gym.  Also, the sweaty clothes would make the consumer associate unattractiveness with Bowflex.

Take a look at this commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qFoSJEX4tg.The camera is always moving when it is viewing the Bowflex. This is done in order for the viewer not to lose interest in looking at the machine. With so many shots and angles being thrown at the viewer, one viewing this commercial will get caught up in the agenda that Bowflex is pushing instead of having the ability to think for themselves. Also notice how the commercial is playing up beat music. The commercial wants you to think only positive thoughts about this product. If there were angry or sad music in the background, the viewer would feel anxiety or sadness and would not want to purchase the machine. Also the simple fact that there is music helps guarantee the chances that the audiences will actually watch it instead of being bored to death.  A man with a cheesy voice is telling you all the benefits of the product. His voice sounds sincere and happy so the viewer can trust him and believe all of the benefits he is listing. The flashing words that pop up as he reads the benefits such as “Cardio and Strength Training Combined” and “Total body workout in just 20 minutes” are also placed in order to ad to the benefits already being listed making the product seem much more valuable than it actually is.

The commercial portrays an attractive couple working-out on the Bowflex machine in what looks to be, a wealthy home. This is to make the viewer associate wealth and success with the Bowflex workout machine. The stylish couch and paintings in the background are all placed there to establish the setting of a rich home. The nice house makes the viewer think that successful people use Bowflex machine. The ad also uses sex to sell the product with the attractive couple. A male or female viewer watches the ad and thinks he or she could workout together with an attractive mate. The fact that the couple is smiling all the time when they workout is to show how using the machine is so easy and convenient.

The heading frame in the commercial is placed there for a reason. The frame being red and black matches the Bowflex logo and the Bowflex machine. Perhaps, it was placed there to make the product to appear more official.  It is another trick Bowflex uses to make it seem to the viewer that the product gives real results. Also at the bottom of the screen big, white letters read: http://www.GetaBowflex.com. This frame remains in the entire commercial. It is placed there to make the option of buying a Bowflex machine convenient to the viewer. Also, it is almost commanding the viewer to literally purchase a Bowflex from the website as it reads, “Get a Bowflex.”

While Bowflex advertises how their product will get you the “perfect “body, they fail to mention how getting the “perfect” body is an extremely difficult task. The body builders that were selected for the commercials probably spent years constantly working out in gyms and strictly eating healthy foods. The before and after segment of Bowflex’s ads are usually what hooks the consumer into buying the product, but are also the most deceiving. According to a staff report done by a federal trade commission on weight loss advertising, before pictures usually contain: “Snapshot quality photograph of the subject that incorporates poor posture, neutral facial expression, unkempt hair, unfashionable attire, poor lightning, and washed out skin tones” (Cleland 12). Go to the part in the commercial where it begins the consumer testimonials (1:15). Notice how the bald guy is talking about how in the first couple of weeks he started notice results. The ad then shows a before and after photo. On the before side, his body is relaxed, he is not shaved, and he is not smiling. On the after side, he is smiling, shaved, and he is flexing his muscles. The lighting on the after side makes his muscles more noticeable. The font that is in the center is highlighting the fact he lost 12 pounds in 6 weeks. But in small fine print towards the bottom of the commercial reads “Individual results will vary. 6 week challenge participants used the Bowflex Fast Fat Loss Now meal plan.” So while this bald guy actually did loose weight and gain muscle, he made it sound as though he lost the weight purely because of the Bowflex machine. The commercial does not mention once how eating healthy is a huge part of loosing weight and gaining muscle. This is Bowflex’s way of trying to deceive the consumer into thinking using only Bowflex products is an easier way to achieve good results instead of having to work hard.

As you continue to watch the customer testimonials, the commercial really makes it seem as if these people who bought this machine had their lives completely turned around.  Bowflex tries to make the viewer believe all of his or her life problems will be solved by purchasing the Bowflex machine. The fact is, Bowflex and exercise equipment commercials in general make people believe there is no way to be happy if one happens to be out of shape.

My anti ad would be a mock version of the commercial. Instead of having the attractive couple work out, I would have a sweaty overweight couple on the Bowflex machine. There would be upbeat music playing in the background and the couple would be struggling instead of smiling as they worked out. There would be close up shots of the subject’s arms and legs as they did the different exercises. I would then have the couple talk about how they spent $2000 on the machine while only loosing 3 pounds after having the product for months.

The purpose of having overweight people in the commercial would take out the sex appeal Bowflex uses to sell their machines. Also, it would be much more realistic especially with shots of them struggling. The part where they talk about how they spent money and only lost a few pounds will show what happens when most people buy a Bowflex machine. They spend a bunch of money thinking they will get into great shape by only doing the exercises Bowflex instructs them to do while still eating unhealthy.

Another anti ad I could do would just be a spoof of a before and after picture. I would have an average guy who is dirty and slouching under a before heading and then under the after heading, I would have a huge body builder flexing. On top of the ad I would have the Bowflex logo. In between the before and after picture I would have in letters read “Bobby lost 30 pounds and gained 60 pounds of muscle!” Under that I would have smaller fine prints that reads “Bobby only ate protein and took a bunch of steroids… Buying a Bowflex will not get you ripped unless you change the way you eat as well as work out everyday.”

In this ad, I would be mocking how Bowflex tricks consumers into thinking how working out on a Bowflex will get you into great shape with the before and after pictures. The fine print represents how Bowflex commercials secretly tell the viewer that the customers on the commercials actually are on diets. The fine print on my anti ad will also show how getting in good shape requires eating right while working out a lot.

Bowflex and exercise equipment companies in general aren’t all that bad. Their products actually do work for the most part, just not at all in the way the companies have consumers perceive them. The problem with the companies is that they create an illusion of convenience that goes along with exercising. Also, these companies mislead consumers into spending lots of money by making them feel insecure about their bodies. If Bowflex really wanted to help people loose weight, they would advertise their product while promoting eating healthier food and being committed to working out every day. Unfortunately though, Bowflex is only out to make as much money as possible and that is why they should be exposed for flexing the truth.

My anti ad

anti ad After

Works Cited

Cleland, Richard L. Weight-Loss Advertising: An Analysis of Current Trends. Rep. Rockville: Federal Trade Commission, 2002. < http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/reports/weightloss.pdf&gt;