That 'Beach Body Ready' Advert Gets All-Clear From Watchdog
The Debrief: That doesn't mean we'll feel any more comfortable about the priggish way Protein World's CEO handled the fall-out...
Remember Protein World's 'ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?' adverts that loomed down on passengers on London's Undergound as they tried to make their way to and from work or wherever they needed to get to?
While oodles of young women felt they weren't appropriate, because they seemed to encourage the idea that there's only one sort of beach-appropriate body, that is, the body of a slim-yet-buxom, airbrushed blonde woman who's pulling a bit of a mean face as if she's saying 'go on, you try this and see if you get to look as good as me'. The company stuck steadfastly by their brand and its decisions; its CEO Arjun Seth saying that those who defaced the posters were 'terrorists', and later retweeting praise like 'fuck these Feminazis' and 'you are awesome, don't give into the bullies'.
The Advertising Standards Authority isn't actually able to judicate on how twisted it is for Mr Seth, who's very happy to show off about the money he's made through the Protein World furore and tows the line in terms of representing women within the same narrow boundaries to think that he's the one who suffered bullying.
But what they have adjudicated on, is that the Protein World advert was 'not irresponsible' in its depiction of women.
'We considered the claim "Are you beach body ready?" prompted readers to think about whether they were in the shape they wanted to be for the summer and we did not consider the accompanying image implied a different body shape to that shown was not good enough or was inferior.
We concluded that the headline and image were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.'
The ASA added that, while the advert would make people consider their body sizes: 'We did not consider the image of the model would shame women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing swimwear in public.'
'For that reason, we concluded the ad was not irresponsible.'
While some might see this as a triumph for free speech, or the ability for businesses to adhere to old-fashioned models while pretending to sell something new (FYI, Protein World's website still advertises a 'WEIGHT LOSS COLLECTION' to women and a 'STRENGTH COLLECTION' to men), eating disorder charities are not impressed with the ASA's ruling.
Rebecca Field, a spokesperson for eating disorders charity BEAT, told The Guardian: 'We find the ruling from the ASA extremely disappointing and we would argue that the advert is irresponsible.
'While we recognise advertising and the media cannot cause eating disorders – they are much more complex than that – we are aware how toxic images can be to an individual. While continuing to promote a slender body image as the only one we should aspire to, the Protein World advert advertises diet products, only adding to the harmful effect it could have on those susceptible to an eating disorder.'
'Every body is different and Beat will continue to campaign to see a wide variety of shapes and sizes represented in the media.'
While the adverts are now facing opposition in New York, the ASA have banned them in the UK after concerns were raised about their weight loss and health claims. As for the ASA's ruling? We're sure Protein World will be very happy about this, but considering they're selling actual powder instead of meals and have insensitively treated people genuinely worried about their advertising methods, we'd rather lose weight via toilet-bowl-splattering diarrhoea thank you very much.
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