Razorfish Invents 'Obecity, USA,' a Fake Place With a Real Problem

Raising awareness and funds to fight obesity

In the animated PSAs below, you'll meet Charlie and Ezra. These young people reside in "Obecity, USA," a fictitious town created by Razorfish for the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation.

Nearly 120 million Americans, including one in six children, struggle with obesity, which trails only smoking as our nation's leading cause of preventable death. "Obecity, USA" seeks to de-stigmatize the condition and provide resources and information to help eradicate the scourge by 2040.

Charlie, Ezra and their neighbors represent society at large. Lacking healthy options and opportunities for exercise, we're inundated by fast-food messaging, stressed to the max, and making choices detrimental to our own well-being.

"It's not what you're eating," the campaign says. "It's what you're being fed."


Charlie's tale illustrates how media saturation and economic inequality perpetuate a vicious cycle.

"The billboards outside his home, the lack of public sidewalks, the unhealthy school lunches, the school gym closed due to lack of funding, his asthma, his parent's struggling with finances ... all of these things sit outside of Charlie's control," Razorfish group creative director Brian Carley tells Muse. "And all of them have an effect on his weight."

The Guesser

Ezra's story contains glimmers of hope, as the unhappy girl visits a carnival weight-guesser, "who goes from being an over-the-top barker to the voice of reason, the only person who understands Ezra's truth," Carley says. "By the end, she feels a sense of understanding and empowerment. There's action to be taken."

Affiliated with Louisiana State University, Pennington launched in 1988 and ranks as a leading researcher on nutrition and diabetes. With "Obecity, USA," the foundation strives to tip the scales in favor of education, empathy and constructive change, explaining that inherited and environmental factors can make obesity maddeningly difficult to combat.

"There are so many external factors, and the campaign shows that people are being set up to be obese," Carley says.

Razorfish took an immersive, multi-media approach to cast the widest possible net. "The intent was to build creative for each channel in a way that supported how people spend time on those channels," Carley explains. "All components in isolation are designed to elicit a reaction to learn more."

See various campaign elements below, including OOH mimicking roadside destination signs and radio inspired by state tourism ads.

Obecity, USA radio

The work mainly targets "people who are or are close to a loved one struggling with obesity," Carley says. "Ultimately, we want to generate donations for Pennington's research."

And while the absurdity of a fake place called Obecity, USA is designed to spark conversations with the #GetFedUp hashtag, "if you look deeper, you quickly realize that it's the current state of America," he says. "It's not really an exaggeration at all."


Campaign Title: Welcome to Obecity, USA

Client: Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation (@Louisiana State University)

Agency: Razorfish (New York)
Brian Carley – Creative Lead
Joshua Foster – Creative Director, Art
Mike Maher – Creative Director, Copy
Geovany Sosa – Creative Director, Design
Nicolas Chidiac – Brand Strategy Lead
Anthea Tang – SVP, Client Partnership
Kelly Kou – Account Director
Jenny Lee – Executive Producer
Rebecca Pustizzi – VP, Product Management
Vincent Au – SVP, User Experience
Katarina Blackwelder – VP, Technology Director

Lost Planet, Editing
Human, Music and Sound Design
Partizan, Animation Production
PlowShare Group, PSA Placement and Tracking
Sound Lounge, Mixing
160over90, Public Relations & Social

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