Oh, It's So Funny You Can't Do A Sit Up...Bet You Have A Gnarly GamerScore!
I wish we had a "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" tag here on TheFeed, but we don't, so here we go...
In an effort to promote the idea of getting into shape, popular retailer GameStop sent employees to work dressed up in fat suits today at two Los Angeles stores.
At this point, you're probably asking "WTF?" You may say "How would seeing someone in a fat suit make me want to play fitness games?"
Let's let GameStop answer your questions, shall we?
From the release:
"Reminding people to stick to their New Year's resolutions, today GameStop employees dressed in fat suits are encouraging shoppers at Los Angeles shopping centers not to follow their example and to instead try out active video games."
As if walking into your local GameStop and seeing people dressed in fat suits trying to selling you video games wouldn't be a total in-your-face reminder of your own physical failings, they sent out a press release to tell everyone about their little "initiative." It's almost as if GameStop thought this would be a good idea.
I've contacted a representative from GameStop for a comment on the use of fat suits and will hopefully hear back from them this weekend. I'll post their response to my questions as soon as I get them. But until then, here are some initial thoughts on why this was a bad idea.
1. Talk About Setting an Example, Jeez.
First of all, I mean, come on. Who wants to buy a fitness game from a fat person? That may seem like a joke, but I'm being serious. Usually advertising is used to set a positive example of what you can become, not what you don't want to become. Has no one on their marketing team ever seen a horrible anti-drug PSA? You know, the ones where they show junkies who say, "Don't be like me, kids!" Those things never work, because guess what? Everyone already knows drugs are bad!
Everyone already knows that if you sit around on your butt all day drinking Mountain Dew and eating nothing but Doritos, chances are, you're going to end up taking the calorie train to elastic waistband town. It's not like anyone walked in, saw the fat suits and said, "What? Sitting still and playing Madden all day doesn't actually make me as physically fit as Randy Moss? I'M SHOCKED!"
So then it begs the question, "Why'd they do it?" Which leads us to Number 2...
If a chest bump is wrong, I don't want to be right
2. Good Idea, Horrible Execution
This type of advertising campaign must mean GameStop assumes a good percentage of their customers (read: gamers) are already overweight or in great danger of becoming overweight. Ok, fair enough. It's a "noble" venture to want to try and do something about it and push product at the same time, I suppose.
However, using fat suits to try and motivate people, doesn't make a ton of sense, unless GameStop thought the fat suits were funny or shocking or both.
If they thought it would be funny, well, then that's just plain wrong. It's wrong because fat people aren't inherently funny just because they are fat. They're funny because they're funny and sometimes they tell jokes about being fat or use it as a physical gag. Not to mention that it's terribly offensive to overweight people in general.
If they thought they were shocking, they were just plain off the mark.
You know what's shocking? Being overweight and having your doctor tell you that you're on the edge of congestive heart failure at the age of 30 because of unhealthy habits...Not walking into your local GameStop and seeing some teenager who has his shirt stuffed with cotton and latex.
The fat suits by themselves seem like a strange way to illustrate a valid point which is: being grossly overweight is bad for your health. Looking at the employees in the suits doesn't really drive that point home. Plus, they aren't even good fat suits--the employees all sort of look like Pinto from Animal House in the scene where he stuffs meat down his sweater. Bizarre.
3. Uhh Guys? This Might Be Totally Offensive.
Since this was a big deal, a big enough deal to warrant a press release, that means multiple people had to agree to it, which baffles my mind. That means that at no point did anyone suggest that customers, fat and non-fat alike, might be offended by this type of campaign.
Saying "Don't end up like me" (see the employees' t-shirts) is a huge insult to customers who already are like them. The t-shirts might as well have said "Hey Fatty! Yeah, you! Put down that Torque Bow and pick up a Wii Fit instead." I just don't get it.
Not to mention, I've shopped at a lot of GameStops (something I'm thinking of seriously giving up after this little debacle) and not every employee there is Lance freakin' Armstrong. So, I guess my question is: Did they just dress up the skinny employees in the fat suits and then give everyone those ridiculous t-shirts? Did they tell the overweight employees not to come into work today? These are questions we may never know the answers to.
4. Fat People Like DDR, Too.
You know, you can be overweight and play DDR. It's not like giving up regular games for fitness games is going to make you magically thin. Not to mention that just because you're thin, doesn't mean you're healthy.
It takes a lot of dedication and equal parts diet and exercise to lose weight. So again, it make me think that the suits were just used because someone thought it'd be entertaining.
You know what guy gamers like to look at? HOT GIRLS. Even girls like to look at hot girls. Why not get some nice little hottie actresses to trot around in Burbank and do yoga on the Wii Fit? That way, I would have been posting pictures of sweater puppies instead of sweaty GameStop employees in fat suits.
Why fat suits? ARRRRRGGGG!
5. Devil's Advocate: Aren't You Being A Little Overly Sensitive About This?
This is the Internet, so I know what you guys are thinking: I'm fat. Well, you're close, I used to be fat. I'm not ashamed to say it because I'm not fat anymore, but my personal story aside, I'm looking at this from an unbiased point of view.
I'm trying to think about it as if I was a customer who walked into this scene at a GameStop today. I, personally, would have been horrified by the sheer uselessness of the idea. I'm all for getting in shape. Hell, I've spent years shedding pounds and hitting the treadmill to do just that. I make jokes about the way I used to look all the time, but putting people in fat suits just seems unnecessary. The whole thing was poorly executed, for sure and there's something about the ratio of entertainment to potential moral land mines that's totally off on this one.
Seriously, it's taken me forever to write this because I have to stop every few sentences, put my head in my hands and say "oh my god, I can't believe they did this."
I know a lot of people who like video games and they're just like any other cross section of the population: some of them are fat, some of them are skinny and unhealthy and some of them are fit. We should all be more cognizant of our health and take better care of ourselves, in general. I just don't think fat suits are the way to promote awareness.
Even though the obesity levels in the US are through the roof, it's hard to be fat. It's like the last bastion of people it's ok to look down on, only it's not ok. It's never ok, because when you need to lose weight, you have to fight yourself and it's the hardest thing in the world to do. You're not making it any easier for people to do it by making them feel bad about themselves, which is exactly what those employees in fat suits ended up doing.