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The latest New York City public health campaign was so determined to make it very clear that diabetes leads to amputation that it created a fictional amputee. New York City's health department confirmed yesterday that their ad agency, with the aid of photoshop not Type 2 diabetes, did indeed lop off a man's leg and added in a pair of crutches in their latest ad (below). Apparently they wanted to make the "CUT" imagery extremely literal. The New York Times did some nifty investigative work and found the original photo which was placed on Getty Images, an image bank used by ad agencies and news outlets use alike. They also found the original photographer. "Well, it is an illustration now, clearly not the picture I did." 

Of course fictionalizing a "truth" campaign like this (the aim isn't unlike the graphic anti-smoking ads, complete with voice boxes and holes-in-throats imagery that made your blogger a non-smoker for life) brings up the questions of the ad's ethics, as well as its potential effectiveness. City health officials have responded by resorting to the playground-tested excuse of "well, he did it first."  "Sometimes we use individuals who are suffering from the particular disease; other times we have to use actors,” John Kelly, a health department spokesman, told The Times. "We might stop using actors in our ads if the food industry stops using actors in theirs."

Head on over to the New York Times to compare the ad and the original image. 

Ad via New York City Health Department. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.