Recently, the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA), along with its industry partners the Ad Standards Council (ASC), and the Ad Foundation, launched the Advertising Industry’s Forum on Healthy Lifestyle, inviting association members, industry organizations and stakeholders, and trade affiliates to discuss the issue of the World Health Organization’s program on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Now, what does PANA have to with the WHO, and NCDs? For a better understanding on the subject, a brief background is necessary.
In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the alarm on the rapid increase of cases of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) that include hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. These NCDs are effects of unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. The WHO immediately launched a global strategy for the prevention of these NCDs.
Starting this year, the WHO is set to enforce a 7-year plan that integrates policies and programs on NCD that addresses unhealthy diets that include salt reduction in processed foods, replacement of trans-fats with polyunsaturated fats, reduction of sugar content in food, and public awareness program about diet and physical activity.
Health and planning sectors of national governments of each member nation of the WHO are subject to enforce the program.
While the program is ideal, the WHO goes further in encouraging governments to pursue legislation that will ban advertising of certain food products. Some European countries have heeded this call.
According to PANA president Blen Fernando, “The Advertising Industry Forum on Healthy Lifestyle this is one of the most important developments within our advertising industry.
Perhaps the biggest message that our forum points out is that a healthy lifestyle should not be be the concern of just companies involved in the marketing of food and beverages, the quick service restaurants and hotels but also by non-food companies in personal and household care, real estate, automotive, banking, education, communications and even entertainment and many others.” Fernando is the Vice-president for Marketing of Alaska Milk Corporation.
What exactly is the state of NCDs in the Philippines? Surveys on nutrition show that at least 14% of Filipinos, 20 yrs and above, are overweight, with at least 3% of them actually obese. The figures represent at least 6 million adults either overweight or obese.
Urban areas, where there is abundance of, and easy access to ‘unhealthy food’, have a higher number of obesity cases.
Based on studies, obesity not only increases health risks, it reduces life expectancy, as well. Obesity increases the probability of heart diseases, which is the leading cause of death in the country. At number 8 in the list of diseases with high mortality rate is diabetes, with cases on a sharp rise over the past years.
Prevention is always better than finding a cure, so PANA is rallying the industry to collaborate with the DOH in advocating healthy lifestyle in their communications. PANA believes that by working together with the government through DOH, the industry can avert the creation of laws that will restrict advertising of certain food products that will greatly impact the whole advertising industry.
During the launch, PANA Director, and Nestlé Philippines Director of Communications, Sandra Puno relayed how advertising spurs economic growth, where advertising fuelled about 15% of growth in GDP for the major G20 countries over the past decade through new business generation. Some of the values of advertising according to the World Federation of Advertisers, is that 1) Advertising provides choice and creates value for consumers; and 2) Advertising pays for sport, culture, advocacies, and the like.
As Puno presented, 63 to 81 percent agree that advertising has value and contributes to society and the economy, while more than 70 percent worldwide responded positively to the values of advertising. “Consumers understand the benefits of advertising, and they trust advertising,” said Puno.
Puno was instrumental in PANA’s spearheading the move for the WFA’s Responsible Advertsing to Children in 2010. The RAC works to anticipate and understand societal and parental aspirations regarding responsible marketing communications and children and provide global leadership by championing good practices in marketing communications to children.
Living in an ultra-modern, high-tech, and digital world accounts for the lifestye with little or no physical activity, along with the presence of unhealthy food choices, and lots of vices that include tobacco use and alcohol intake.
Trumpeting the WHO’s call to action is the Department of Health (DOH) that has been active in creating awareness on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and implementing its Go4Health Program aggressively through media, in schools and business establishments, and other trade gatherings.
Representing the DoH, A-Sec. Dr. Eric Tayag, explained how Go4Health aims to inform and encourage Filipinos from all walks of life to practice a healthy lifestyle by making a personal commitment to physical activity, proper nutrition, and the prevention or cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption.
Shared A-Sec. Tayag, “According to the WHO, the Philippines is among the Top 10 advertisers of tobacco in Asia. Ten Filipinos die every hour from smoking and second-hand smoking.”
Go4Health works to encourage target publics to make personal commitments to healthy living; generate public interest in and awareness of healthy lifestyle choices; and engage private and public institutions to commit to establishing environments that encourage healthy lifestyle choices.
Heeding the Puno’s call for digital marketers to step in and help, the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) Vice-president Michael Palacios said, “IMMAP is very supportive of the advocacy of creating a more healthy future for the next generation. One-third of Filipinos are online, and I think this is a big opportunity for an advocacy to be coursed through social media. We are also massive consumers of online video, so the challenge is to create a very nice strong video content, then get publishers on board to get it to as many people as possible.”
“Here and other countries, online users come together and make positive changes for their society. Creating a healthy future is just one other advocacy that they can get into,” he added. Palacios is the Co-founder and Managing Director of Havoc Digital.
“We can all promote a healthy lifestyle to our consumers through our communication and activation programs and among our employees and their families. A healthy lifestyle consists of a good nutritious diet, some regular activeness like exercise, a sport, dancing or even just walking at every opportunity and, most importantly, we need to have a good disposition towards life and its challenges,” said Fernando.
“We need the support and cooperation of all our members and colleagues in promoting this healthy lifestyle. Our industry needs to be united and effective in showing the government that we are all co-creators of the ways to help elevate the health status of our country, no matter how small these initiatives may be,” she added.