Controversial ‘Beach Body’ ad banned after hundreds of complaints

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned Protein World’s ‘Beach Body’ campaign due to concerns over “health and weight loss claims made in the ad” after receiving hundreds of complaints.

@everyoneisetra

@everyoneisetra

A spokesperson from the ASA said the authority met with Protein World to discuss the “Are you beach body ready?” campaign following negative reactions to the ad, which appeared throughout the London Underground last week showcasing a woman in a bikini alongside the words “Are You Beach Body Ready?”.

“It’s coming down in the next three days and, due to our concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims made in the ad, it can’t appear again in its current form,” the ASA said.

As of Monday the ASA had received 216 complaints about the ad from the fitness and sports nutrition brand, while a separate Change.org petition calling for the ad to be removed had received over 40,000 signatures.

Negative reactions to the campaign have been numerous, with commuters defacing many of the ads and taking to social media with the hash tag #EachBodysReady to express their anger.

On Monday, an ASA spokesperson told Marketing Week: “The complaints generally found that the ad is offensive, irresponsible and harmful because it promotes an unhealthy body image.”

However, today the ASA stated: “Although the ad won’t appear in the meantime, we’ve launched an investigation to establish if it breaks harm and offence rules or is socially irresponsible. We will now carefully and objectively explore the complaints that have prompted concerns around body confidence and promptly publish our findings.”

In response to negative tweets about the campaign, Protein World CEO Arjun Seth wrote that “sales have tripled and the PR department just got their bonus”, while the brand has defiantly re-tweeted numerous offensive tweets about its body image.

Seth told Channel 4 that the adverts are “aspirational” and that he would only take notice if the petition were to reach 1,000,000 signatures.

He added that the people destroying the brand’s ads are “terrorists” performing criminal actions, while Protein World tweeted: “This is not feminism, it is extremism.”

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Comments
  • Daniel Betts 30 Apr 2015 at 8:04 am

    It’s sad that we live in a world where it’s politically incorrect to aspire to be in good physical shape. In an age in which obesity is gradually taking over the nation, it’s a shame to see how quickly we’re afraid of offending the people too lazy to eat healthily, exercise regularly or manage their own health. I don’t believe this image in any way demeans women. If it does, then we need to address the images of toned male models on underwear, aftershave and any other medium in which the male figure is equally as objectified. Are these unrealistic expectations of men? No, they’re aspirational. Advertising should be aspirational. If Protein World portrayed the image of an overweight lady on the cover, you would be encouraging a body shape that is unattainable for the skinny people. Everybody’s body shape is different and you will never please everybody.

    • greggerypeccary 30 Apr 2015 at 1:02 pm

      Did you miss the part about the ad being removed due to concerns over the claims it made? This paragraph:

      ” “It’s coming down in the next three days and, due to our concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims made in the ad, it can’t appear
      again in its current form,” the ASA said.”

      Just to clarify, the ad was removed because of the health and weight loss claims it made. People have also complained on other grounds, but this wasn’t why it was removed.

      You claim to live in a world where “it’s politically incorrect to aspire to be in good physical shape.” Do you honestly believe there’s a shortage of adverts which rely on aspirational or healthy body images?

      • SomethingForEveryone 1 May 2015 at 1:57 pm

        Hear hear Sir. Plus – we’re talking about a meal replacement program – what about that is sustainable healthy weight loss?! The product is full of stabilisers and non-natural ingredients. We need a reality check on what healthy is. The ad is misleading. Has anyone asked if the model in question had actually used Slender Bender?! I think that should certainly be an ASA regulation.

        • Daniel Betts 1 May 2015 at 4:00 pm

          Meal replacement is a small section of what they’re offering. Protein World are advertising a range of supplements to support a healthy lifestyle. The majority of the media outcry has been about the portrayal of the model, irrespective of how the ’cause’ has been spun . Simon Allan is absolutely correct, the hilarious irony is that I didn’t know who Protein World were before this campaign…and now I would go there for all of my supplementary requirements.

          There is a desperate lack of knowledge regarding health supplements in the UK. Protein doesn’t miraculously make you muscular, creatine doesn’t turn you into the Incredible Hulk over night. Many of the supplements on offer simply deliver a more convenient means of maximising your body’s nutritional requirements in line with a busy or hectic lifestyle.

          This is a ridiculous example of British political correctness gone mad.

  • Christian 30 Apr 2015 at 9:02 am

    Totally agree with Daniel , I think it just shows how spineless this country is now becoming and how the country as a whole is taking offence to far too much, get over it !

  • Simon Allan 1 May 2015 at 11:38 am

    Totally and utterly agree with Daniel and Christian. I think the ASA is a joke of an organisation to even listen to these claims. Very sad that the ads are due to come down and the real joke is on all the people who complained as you have helped Protein World become a really well known brand.

  • Nicola Massier-Dhillon 5 May 2015 at 9:26 am

    While I agree that ads that make false claims (in this case dubious weight loss and ‘health’ content) should be banned, and images of unrealistically photoshopped 18 year olds do erode ‘normal’ people’s body image…BUT why is it that the ‘healthy body image brigade’ then goes on to promote FAT? Why the leap from the world of photoshopped perfection to a size 16 in need of a diet and some exercise? Whether it’s Dove’s real women or the Bodyshop campaign, you won’t see anyone slimmer than a size 14 or 16. Normalising fat isn’t a healthy way forward either. The media promoting unrealistically attainable bodies is unfair. But that’s not the real enemy: soaring obesity and the associated health risks, not to mention the growing burden to our NHS are where we should be putting our money and our mouths.

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