Publications

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Alcohol marketing in the digital age [pdf]

New technologies are fundamentally altering the alcohol marketing landscape. Even as the "information superhighway" has given way to a web devoted largely to commerce, marketing is one of the least understood aspects of the new media culture. This report summarizes findings from a study we conducted with our colleagues at the Center for Digital Democracy to identify and analyze the emerging alcohol digital marketing practices and to assess the policy implications for both.

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Policy recommendations to the White House task force on obesity [pdf]

These comments were submitted on behalf of the California Convergence to the White House Interagency Task Force on Obesity to inform it's recommendations for the First Lady's Let's Move campaign to eliminate childhood obesity in a generation. The comments emphasize the policies across the four pillars of the Let's Move campaign that will create healthy food and activity environments, focusing on a multi-sector, community-based approach to inform progress.

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Video: Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles advances goals through media advocacy

After participating in media advocacy trainings from BMSG, the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles leveraged its newly acquired skills to voice opposition to Proposition 6, which threatened to increase the number of crimes for which 14-year-olds could be tried as adults. The group continues to practice media advocacy today.

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Attention, Walmart shoppers: Healthy snacks in aisles 7 and 21

Middle-schoolers in the Northern California town of Anderson were fed up with the amount of junk food in the check-out stands of their local grocery stores, mini-mart and gas stations. In this case study, we show how the youth, with guidance from the Healthy Eating Active Communities initiative, became savvy about the effects of such junk on their health and took action to make healthy foods and beverages more visible in their community.

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Nutrition content of food and beverage products on websites popular with children [pdf]

Findings from a BMSG study of 28 websites popular with children point to the likelihood that the food and beverage products advertised on the web are ones that kids should avoid.

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Sugar water gets a facelift: What marketing does for soda

This framing brief describes the intensive, immersive, incessant marketing tactics soda companies are using to encourage young people to drink more of America's top non-alcoholic beverage.

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Podcast: News frames of health issues

BMSG Director Lori Dorfman talks to Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, about how the news frames public health issues. Knowing how a particular issue is portrayed in the media allows advocates to anticipate their opposition's arguments and gives them a starting point for having conversations with policymakers about potential solutions.

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Podcast: The eyeballs have moved: Food marketing to children and youth in the digital age

BMSG Director Lori Dorfman talks to Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, about marketing to children and youth in the digital age. Dorfman describes how marketers use online technology to target ads more precisely and for less money than traditional marketing.

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Moving from them to us: Challenges in reframing violence among youth

This report explores how youth and violence have been framed in the news, how the issue of race complicates depictions of youth and violence, and how public attitudes about government can inhibit public support for violence prevention. It also includes recommended next steps for reframing violence among youth for UNITY, a national effort addressing the root causes of violence. The Appendix describes the methods for the literature review of research on news coverage included in the paper.

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Moving from them to us: Challenges in reframing violence among youth -- appendix [pdf]

This appendix contains details on the methods for the literature review BMSG conducted to update the 2001 report from Building Blocks for Youth, Off Balance: Youth, Race, and Crime in the News. After sifting through hundreds of research studies that touched on either youth, race, or crime, we found 37 that were directly relevant to this inquiry. Most upheld the original findings from Off Balance, indicating that news coverage continues to distort youth, race, and crime.

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Promoting physical activity and healthy eating: Convergence in framing the role of industry [pdf]

This commentary addresses a little explored aspect of prevention, namely, how public health practitioners conceptualize the roles of industries whose business interests may be at odds with physical activity and eating nutrient-rich foods. Many public health advocates have framed obesity as a battle with the food industry, which can alienate potential fitness industry partners. Creating healthy environments requires reframing expectations of all industries that influence physical activity and inactivity.

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What surrounds us shapes us: Making the case for environmental change

This framing brief helps advocates explain that what surrounds us -- our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces -- influences our health. When people understand that, then the policies that improve places make sense.

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Funding prevention in California: Lessons from past efforts to raise revenues [pdf]

When it comes to prevention, the question isn't what works, the question is: how can we pay for what we know will create healthy environments? In this report, we examine whether past efforts to raise revenues in the realms of alcohol, tobacco, and lead paint might hold promise in the realm of food and activity. We present six case studies of those efforts and an analysis of news coverage of three California attempts to raise taxes or attach a fee to junk food or soda.

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Working upstream: Skills for social change [pdf]

Public health needs more practitioners who can bridge the gap between research and practice, and more students who can advocate for social change. Unfortunately, degree-granting public health programs generally do not provide systematic training in advocacy. Recognizing this gap, BMSG worked with professor Susan Sorenson and dean Lawrence Wallack to develop a curriculum and resource guide that could be adapted by public health programs to teach social advocacy. We enlisted the participation of faculty, nonprofit public health leaders, students and recent graduates from across the nation.

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Issue 17: Debates from four states over selling soda in schools

In 2006, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Maryland introduced legislation that included restrictions on the sales of sodas in schools. That same year, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation brokered a deal among soda companies to restrict soda sales in schools. We wanted to know: How were the arguments for and against restricting access to soda and junk food being portrayed in news and in testimony before lawmakers? Who was making the arguments, and what were they saying?

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Video: More than a message: Framing issues from public health

Delivering the keynote address for the 2008 True Spin Conference in Denver, BMSG's director Lori Dorfman explains our approach to media advocacy, why message is never first, and what public health advocates need to know about framing.

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Provoking thought, changing talk: Discussing inequality [pdf]

Does a commitment to reducing inequality mean that we know how to talk about it? We find out in this report, the inaugural issue of the "You Can Get There From Here" paper series from The Social Equity and Opportunity Forum at Portland State University. First, Joe Grady and Axel Aubrun of Cultural Logic discuss the difficulties inherent in talking about inequality. Then BMSG director Lori Dorfman and Larry Wallack explore how to overcome those difficulties and put changes into practice.

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Food marketers greenwash junk food: Companies tout link to health and environmental movements

This framing brief explains how food and beverage companies are borrowing the symbolism of the environmental movement to cast a favorable "green" light on themselves and their products. But many of the products they label green are still high in fat, salt and calories, and whether they are eco-friendly is open to debate.

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Using media advocacy to influence policy

This chapter was written to help public health advocates think strategically about working with the news media. This means switching from thinking about using mass media solely as a tool for getting information to health consumers to thinking about the news media as a mechanism for informing citizens and pressuring decision makers.

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Interactive food & beverage marketing: Targeting children and youth in the digital age -- full report [pdf]

The proliferation of media in children's lives has created a new "marketing and media ecosystem" that encompasses mobile devices, social networks, instant messaging, video games, and virtual, three-dimensional worlds. This report examines how these new marketing practices are fundamentally transforming how food and beverage companies do business with young people in the 21st century.

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Website: digitalads.org

This Web site exposes the immersive and often insidious practices food and beverage companies use to market their products to children and youth online, using everything from Web sites to mobile phones. The foods and beverages being marketed are, by and large, among those that health experts, including the Institute of Medicine, have said children should avoid. Visit the site to learn more about digital marketing, read reports from experts on the subject, and keep up-to-date on the latest ad campaigns.

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Reading between the lines: Understanding food industry responses to concerns about nutrition

When a food or beverage company does something that might be good for health, should public health groups congratulate them publicly? If not, why not? When companies' words don't match their deeds, the answers are not always clear. This framing brief describes how food and beverage companies are reacting to pressure from public health groups and explores implications for framing public health's responses to those actions.

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Layers of strategy [pdf]

This document outlines BMSG's four-stage approach to media advocacy planning, a process we call the layers of strategy. It follows the idea that message should never be first or foremost. Rather, the first and most important stage involves developing an overall strategy tied to an advocacy campaign's specific policy goal. Media, message and media access strategies follow.

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Navigating the trade press -- food industry sources appendix [xls]

This appendix to Navigating the trade press: What are the food and beverage industries discussing contains a wealth of sources to help map public and industry conversations on nutrition and activity.

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Navigating the trade press: What are the food and beverage industries discussing?

Our public conversation about food and beverage policy is influenced by many sources, including industry stakeholders. But public health advocates are often at a disadvantage when facing corporate heavyweights simply because they are not privy to the same information. To help give advocates working to prevent obesity an understanding of food and advertising literature, we mapped the food, beverage, and advertising trade press, a rich source of information on the industries that, to a large degree, determines what Americans eat. [download appendix]

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