Everyone’s seen it; everyone’s got an opinion about it.
Yet the first time I saw Protein World's "Are You Beach Body Ready?" advert, at my local tube station, I didn't really think much of it. And that’s coming from a girl who’s pretty far from a size 8. The concept of a slim woman promoting weight loss; where have I seen that before? Of course - in the thousands of magazines bought daily by women looking for inspiration and advice. Get your best beach body ever. Lose 5kg in a month. Drop a dress size in a week. We’ve heard this all before and do we take it seriously? I certainly don’t. And we definitely don’t go organising a demonstration in Hyde Park.
So why has this advert caused so much outrage? Especially during a week where there’s far more pressing issues which should be taking centre stage, such as the earthquake in Nepal or the execution in Indonesia.
Ultimately the rise of social media has given people a voice, and women who are fed up of being objectified in this way have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns. Who is the brand to decide what body is worthy of wearing skimpy swimwear and hitting the beach? But why has this one caused huge uproar and not one of the many others we see every day? Or what about size 6 swimwear models showing off this year’s collection? Being six foot tall and planted across almost every tube station in London probably didn’t help. Unsurprisingly the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has now banned the controversial ad for misleading health claims whilst also launching a 'social responsibility' probe.
However despite the backlash, Protein World has ultimately reaped the rewards. Its own marketing boss has even said, “I think it’s fair to say we weren’t expecting this level of exposure - but it’s fantastic.” The campaign has turned a £250,000 media spend into a viral phenomenon turning a little known brand into a household name.
But whatever your personal opinion is, the campaign has got people talking and it’s got people thinking. Body positively IS an important issue and we’ve taken huge leaps forward in promoting this over the past few years. Just look at Dove and the success the brand has had with its campaign for ‘Real Beauty’; or the huge influx of plus-size models promoting the latest fashion trends.
In my opinion, if this whole fiasco has helped women to have the courage to put on a bikini and say “screw you”, then we are making progress. Let’s move away from whether the ad is right or wrong and focus on what’s important.