It was the sad and wholly predictable death of Swino the Beer Swilling Hog which allowed me to put my finger on what makes me uneasy about two separate but thematically similar health campaigns on the go at the moment.
First, there is the ad campaign on Scottish television for the flu jag (which, truth be told, reminded me I had to make my appointment as a chronic asthmatic) shown above. Get the jag if not for yourself, then for your family it says as a little boy asks in bewilderment why daddy cannot play football and his mummy sits in equal shock.
Then there is the following bus campaign by Diabetes UK for Type II diabetes running in, at least, the National Express routes in the West Midlands.
Family members are shown pole-axed with grief at a diagnosis (I only can wonder at their reaction to Type I), although from the Diabetes UK website, it may have been their response to blindness or heart attack which is presented as a natural progression from onset.
Returning to Swino’s demise, what struck me about these two campaigns was the crude and emotive imagery which put me in mind of Victorian-era moralizing campaigns for Abstentionism in which heart-rending of bedraggled, poorly-clothed children linked to those of father staggering in and out of the pub; juxtaposed with happy, clean living families in which the red glow on father’s cheeks was from honest work and not the flush of drink.
Although there is a risk of seasonal flu and it can be, at best, debilitating, at worst fatal for young and old, in my experience we in the vulnerable groups have been savvy to the need to seek the jag for many years. Across the UK, in most years 600 or so people die from the flu so this will be a few dozen in Scotland, and these are disproportionately from the extreme ends of the vulnerable groups.
Then again, flu still can hit anyone suddenly. In the case of the Diabetes UK campaign, this appears to have arisen from a report listing vague and ambiguous symptoms which could indicate early onset, but are far more to indicate something: a) completely different; b) entirely innocuous.
Speaking personally, such a tack might compel a few more people to seek a test when, previously, they would have done nothing, but this effect would be unlikely to last and soon it would be seen as another campaign dreamt up by a Don Draper wannabe.
In the meantime, gorge yourself on fats and sugars for diabetes.