Resolutions and Irresolution

Just as television is a near-continuous round of It’s a Wonderful Life broadcasts in the weeks right before Christmas, the first few weeks of January are a virtual telethon of commercials for diets, exercise machines and health clubs as advertisers aim to capitalize on the New Year’s resolutions of paunchy consumers. Having bulked up over the holidays, people are especially susceptible to messages that cajole and/or shame them into making an effort to shape up and shed some pounds. Advertisers can time their barrages even more precisely by noting the fact that the overwhelming majority of people begin dieting on a Monday. Indeed, a survey released last year by Parade magazine found that 85.1% of respondents begin such regimens on Monday. Alas, while the spirit is willing the flesh is often weak – which, of course, is why we find ourselves in need of making the same resolutions all over again the following New Year’s Day. How long do diets typically last? For 26.8% of respondents to the Parade survey, the answer is a week or more, but less than a month. Another 28.5% said their diets last more than one month but less than three. This suggests the period from late January through early March is prime time for food advertisers who wish to capitalize on the pent-up demand of people who are giving up on their diets. By the same token, marketers of easy chairs and recliners could try similar timing for sales pitches to catch people who are falling off their Exercycles and ski-simulation machines. Meanwhile, advertising agencies wishing to even out their cash flow through the first quarter of the year would do well to balance a diet- or exercise-related account with a client in the rich-dessert category.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)