Everything you need to know about Protein World’s controversial “Are You Beach Body Ready” campaign
Once in a while, our PR team comes across an ad campaign littered with flubs that make us wonder whether the team behind the advert checked in with their PR and/or legal team before they developed the campaign. Such is the case with Protein World, a London-based weight loss supplements company that deployed a print ad campaign in the London Underground, with a very thin bikini-clad model and a tagline “Are You Beach Body Ready?”
As expected, there has been public outrage over the fat shamming and bullying nature of the ad. Many have taken to social media to express their disappointment in Protein World’s decision to run the campaign. It has also been reported that the Advertising Standard Authority received 270 complaints about the ad and will launch an investigation.
Others on social media have turned the negative message in the ads into positive ones, encouraging women to be proud of their bodies, no matter their shape and size. Over the weekend, individuals dressed in bikinis convened at London’s Hyde Park to speak out against the campaign. Protesters carried placards that read “This is a beach body”.
Protein World defiantly stands behind its decision to air the ads and has embraced the backlash from social media with cheeky replies that could very well be construed as rude — Protein World’s CEO, Arjun Seth, has also been quoted saying that critics of his company’s ad are terrorists. Moreover, it is not clear the extent to which their market penetration will take a hit because of the ads; as of the time this article was being written, a quick review of Protein World’s engagement and reach on their Twitter channel suggests that many still believe in the brand and its product offerings.
As the public decries the fat shaming implications of Protein World’s tagline, a change.org petition entitled “Remove Are You Beach Body Ready Advertisements” has already received 70,180 signatures out of the 75,000 needed to reach its goal. Additionally, the Transport for London told reporters that the ad has run its three-week course and will be taken down forthwith.
Props to Protein World for standing behind their campaign even though it has not been well received. They are an example of a brand that thrives on controversy for PR. They choose to stir trouble for press mentions and news coverage past the usual 24 hour news cycle. They get a lot of earned media attention because they are constantly being talked about. The “this brand isn’t for everyone” strategy will work for them but it can get gimmicky very quickly, because being controversial comes at a price. The brand risks losing its foothold with its current consumer base and could further alienate prospective customers who were on the fence about their brand.
Did you find the ads offensive? Do you think Protein World should focus more on the health benefits of its products rather than on the aesthetics. Tell us in the comments section or tweet me @mo_yeen