Newsweek ad falls flat on safety

Wellness ad forgets bike safety

A Newsweek magazine ad sponsored by Amway Global and the YMCA was meant to promote wellness. The family featured in the ad photo is not wearing bike helmets.

A Newsweek magazine ad sponsored by Amway Global and the YMCA was meant to promote wellness. The family featured in the ad photo is not wearing bike helmets.

“How well does your wellness stack up?” says the two page advertisement in last week’s Newsweek magazine.

We asked: “How well does your ad vetting stack up?”

The ad was sponsored by Amway Global and the YMCA and promotes healthy lifestyles.
In conjunction with the ad campaign a hundred YMCA’s across America will feature wellness events for the whole family this weekend.

Good concept.  Poor execution.The photo accompanying the ad features a young family out for a

"It is ironic that an organization with the URL inspirewellness.com inspires riding without a helmet. That can make you really unwell."

Randy Swart from the Virginia-based Bicyle Helmet Safety Institute said: "It is ironic that an organization with the URL inspirewellness.com inspires riding without a helmet. That can make you really unwell."

bicycle ride. We noticed one  problem: The family isn’t wearing bicycle helmets.

“It is ironic that an organization with the URL inspirewellness.com inspires riding without a helmet. That can make you really unwell,” said Randy Swart, head of the Virginia-based Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.

BHSI compiles research on bicycle helmets and bike safety. It says there are roughly 750 bicycle deaths in the U.S. each year. Seventy-five percent of those bicycle deaths involve people who aren’t wearing helmets. Swart said medical research shows bike helmets can prevent 85 percent of cyclists’ head injuries.

“We have received a couple of call about that,” said Mamie Moore, YMCA USA spokeswoman. “The most that we can do is offer our sincere apology because it was a major oversight on our part.”

Moore said the YMCA worked with Amway Global to develop the Newsweek ad. “It’s just something that we overlooked.”Robin Luymes, Amway Global’s manager of advertising, PR and sponsorships agreed that the ad should have shown a “safe” family of cyclists. “We apologize for this and promise to
provide closer scrutiny of this in any ads featuring cyclists going forward,” said Luymes.

What Swart doesn’t understand is how the magazine ad passed through the vetting process of the YMCA, Amway Global and Newsweek.

The advertising error appears in this week's edition of Newsweek magazine.

The advertising error appears in this week's edition of Newsweek magazine.

We e-mailed Newsweek CEO Thomas Aschiem, Publisher Patrick Hagerty and Sales Operations Director John Ernst to explain why their staff didn’t catch the error. We received no reply.

“It is hard to understand how high-salaried people involved in producing that very expensive ad failed to understand that the lack of helmets would be a concern,” said Swart.

Will another ad run in Newsweek correcting the error?

At this point, we don’t know.

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About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm a professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
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2 Responses to Newsweek ad falls flat on safety

  1. Pingback: bikehelmetsgeezer » Blog Archive » Newsweek ad falls flat on safety

  2. Mark McClure says:

    When I originally saw the full-page ad in Newsweek, I pulled the page and set it aside. This morning, I finally got around to responding (see my message that follows). Afterwards, I found your blog entry. I am in complete agreement with your closing question (“It is hard to understand how high-salaried people…”).

    Ref: http://inspirewellness.com/contact-us/

    To Whom It May Concern,

    In a periodical that I subscribe to, I saw one of your full page ads titled “How Does Your Wellness Stack Up?”. What caught my eye was the photo on the top of the page of the mom, dad, young girl and baby girl on bicycles. I noticed that not one member of the family was wearing a bicycle helmet, including the baby who was on the dad’s bicycle in a baby seat! I think this photo is incredibly ironic given your message about promoting wellness. What were you (or your ad agency) thinking?

    In the spirit of transparency, I am a dad (of three), 53 years old, a regular bicycle commuter, and I work for a health insurance company (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon).

    Thank you – Mark McClure
    memcclure@gmail.com

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