Good ‘Move’ or Misstep?

Let's Move! Logo

First Lady Michelle Obama has been encouraging children, as well as adults, to get moving!  In her Let’s Move! campaign, the First Lady promotes the importance of getting enough physical activity.

Michelle Obama

The Let’s Move! website provides people with facts, food and nutrition information and physical activity tips.  The website also features a plethora of photos that include Sesame Street characters, and sports players to promote the campaign.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately 35 percent of people in the United States are obese.  The health risks include heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

The First Lady launched the Let’s Move! Campaign nationwide in February 2010.  Since the launch, the campaign claims it has won “substantial commitments from parents, business leaders, educators, elected officials, military leaders, chefs, physicians, athletes, childcare providers, community and faith leaders, and kids” to improve the health of the United States, the Let’s Move! website said.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also redesigned the food pyramid we have grown up with and have referenced when deciding what to put on our plate.  “My Plate” or “Mi Plato” was unveiled in June 2011 with the intent to remind people to think about “building a healthy plate,” according to the USDA release.  The campaign and the new My Plate icon has been the central focus of the First Lady’s role while her husband, President Barak Obama, has been in office.

My Plate

To promote the campaign, the First Lady has partnered with athletes, actors and schools to encourage children and young adults to make good, healthy food choices.  Within the last two years, she has also appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Her first appearance was in February 2013 and included a memorable skit.  The Evolution of Mom Dancing has more than 17 million views on YouTube.  She promotes dancing as a good way to get exercise.  Make it fun!

The Tonight Show

A year later, Jimmy Fallon replaced Jay Leno as the Tonight Show host.  In his first week debut, the First Lady made a guest appearance, and once again was involved in a skit with Fallon promoting the campaign.  This time they were joined by Will Farrell and she once again encouraged everyone to dance!  “Ew!” with Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell & First Lady Michelle Obama has generated more than three million views on YouTube.  It was given positive reviews by Time magazine and was considered “viral-ready” by Entertainment Weekly.

So far the campaign seems to be successful.  By appearing on Late Night and now the Tonight Show, do you think this is a good PR tactic by the White House to reach a younger audience?  Do these “viral-ready” skits encourage young adults to make healthy food choice and become active?

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4 Responses to Good ‘Move’ or Misstep?

  1. Emily Wininger says:

    I think that Michelle Obama is very wise to engage with different platforms so that her campaign can be seen by more people. I do not necessarily believe that Jimmy Fallon will attract young generations (elementary and high schools), but rather the late teenage and twenties population. The Millennial Generation is very engaged with social media and digital media. By tapping into the channels they chose to monitor and engage in daily, you will not only reach a larger audience but they will share content and move it further along as well. Although I think the viral messaging is a good idea, I am not sure if watching videos actually makes people get up and move to music like Michelle Obama wants. I think it would be more successful to have a segment like she does and do a Jimmy Kimmel send-in like his Halloween candy segments every year. If people were asked to send in videos of them dancing, they would be more likely to engage in the action, not just think about what Michelle Obama is trying to achieve.

  2. Zander Buel says:

    I think the only people this campaign will reach are people who support the Obama Administration. If it’s a successful tactic that is truly, honestly encouraging young people to make healthier lifestyle changes, then good for them. I can’t see how it will be any better or worse than any other health/fitness movements. They all follow suite, except this one has political implications.

  3. Brett Nachman says:

    Hi Meenah. I’m glad you covered this topic, as Michelle Obama’s campaign to get everyone eating healthier and exercising more has had major social implications — generally, very positively. Her choice to appear on relevant talk shows, such as Fallon’s, have been a strategic measure met by both acclaim and encouraging results. Through presenting the information in a fun, accessible manner — for instance, persuading Fallon’s character to try kale chips — she is teaching through entertainment. While I doubt a majority of viewers would readily consider eating the vegetable snack as a result of seeing the skit, perhaps it might lead some to Google it and maybe consider looking for it at the grocery store. While I much prefer the old food pyramid, the “My Plate” format is certainly more appealing visually and also easily understandable. It’s a given that the obesity crisis that exists in our nation will not lessen overnight — no pun intended — but I have a feeling that smart and entertaining efforts crafted by Mrs. Obama and her team are helping raise awareness. Additionally, bringing athletes or pop stars into the picture (obese young individuals may be more interested in seeing exercise and make better food choices) are often more effective spokespeople than a First Lady. I certainly approve of Mrs. Obama’s campaign and look forward to seeing more efforts addressing these health issues, especially if they include more humor.

  4. Meenah Rincon says:

    I absolutely agree with some of your views. I also think that it is a way to bring awareness to the issue, but would I get up and start dancing because Michelle Obama said it’s good for me? Probably not, but I do take that message with me. It did make me look into the new My Plate that replaced the food pyramid. I think that she is in a position to influence people into making better food and health choices and the technological advances are there to make it possible. Whether their tactic changed the choices people make in regards to food and exercise is hard to measure, but it did get people talking about it.

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