Success! Thanks to this powerful campaign the posters are coming down! The Advertising Watchdog has launched a formal investigation into Protein World’s Beach Body adverts and banned it from appearing again in its current form. “It’s coming down in the next three days” they said. “And, due to our concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims made in the ad it can’t appear again.”
Read about the campaign that resulted in this brilliant victory below…
You’ll have seen them. The bright yellow posters, featuring a super slim model in a bikini asking “Are You Beach Body Ready?” And if you’re anything like us, they’ll have made you angry. Like really angry. So it should come as no surprise that the adverts for Protein World’s Weight Loss Collection have been branded ‘sexist’ and ‘body shaming’ – and thousands (43,000 to be precise) have called for them to be removed.
Others have taken it a step further, scrawling their own body positive messages across the posters and changing the words so that they now read “Each Body’s Ready.” Bloggers Fiona Longmuir and Tara Costello have posed in their bikinis in front of the posters, and are now organizing a huge event encouraging everyone of all shapes and sizes to come down in their swimwear to show that all bodies are ready for the beach.
“Protein World are directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product,” explains Charlotte Baring, who started the petition on change.org. “Perhaps not everyone’s priority is having a ‘beach body’… and making somebody feel guilty for not prioritizing it by questioning their personal choices is a step too far.”
While blogger Tara Costello says of her choice to take action by posing in a bikini: “The fact that Protein World has the audacity to suggest that women need modification before visiting the beach makes me livid,” she says. “It isn’t just an advert, it’s part of a much bigger problem. Every day women are being told they have to look a certain way and match particular beauty standards… I’m sick and tired of seeing just one body type pushed and sold across advertising campaigns, television and everywhere else.”
In the light of such a failed advertising disaster, you would expect Protein World to eat humble pie (or, in their case a humble protein shake) but alas, they’ve gone for the exact opposite approach. “It’s a shame that in 2015 there are still a minority who aren’t focusing on those who aspire to be healthier, fitter and stronger,” they said in their statement. “We now run Britain’s largest protein facility, selling our products in over 50 countries to more than 300,000 customers. Most of them are women. How could we possibly be sexist? … We absolutely have no intention of removing the adverts because of a minority making a lot of noise.”
It gets worse. Digging the hole even deeper, they’ve taken to Twitter – telling women who object to the adverts to “get a grip” and asking “why make your insecurities our problem.” Not content with throwing their own insults about, they’ve also been retweeting trolls who call those offended “spiteful and lazy” and saying that Britain is “a nation of sympathizers for fatties.” Nice company, huh?
“Their lack of awareness shows deep ignorance of what people are saying,” says Hannah Atkinson, who was the first to tweet about the advert. “It’s natural to want to defend your brand. But the very fact that they think selling products to women somehow proves that they are not sexist sums up the lack of trouble they have taken to research these issues or listen to what they are being questioned on.”
“I know that supporters of the brand have taken the protest to be an attack on healthy lifestyles when it simply isn’t. The problem is that it’s a fitness brand and it’s entirely centred on looks and what other people think of your body. It’s nothing to do with health.”
The model behind the campaign Renee Somerfield has also spoken out against the backlash saying, “I am a real person behind the image. I work very hard and live a healthy and active lifestyle which is why Protein World chose me for their campaign,” adding that she did agree with some of the criticism surrounding the posters, “I agree that all bodies are ‘beach body ready.’ Confidence is beautiful no matter what size you are… Your reflection doesn’t define your worth.”