The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority received more than 60,000 angry complaints, making the ad one of the most scorned in recent memory.
Most complaints involve perceived indecency, but this time the message is the medium. Graffiti artists pounced on the ads in London, defacing them with more politically correct slogans, such as “Each body’s ready” and “You are fine as you are.”
The campaign even picked up a slogan, “Take back the beach.” Other retailers have also jumped into the controversy with their counter ads.
Dove, the cosmetics and soap company produced a parody ad with three topless plus-size models saying: “Yes We are Beach Body Ready.” UK fashion brand, Simply Be also created posters declaring “Every body is beach body ready.”
The complaints were contained in an online petition signed by more than 60,000 Britons. The British advertising authority, known as the ASA, also received just under 400 direct complaints, according to the BBC.
“I spent life believing I’m not good enough: I signed,” Tweeted Juliette Burton, echoing protesters’ sentiments. They objected to the ad’s message that any body different from the woman’s “idealized” shape was somehow inferior.
The ASA banned the ad, but not for reasons raised by protesters. To the contrary it ruled that the message was “not offensive or irresponsible.” The campaign was halted because the company’s health claims had not been approved by the European Union.
The company behind the ad, Protein World, sells weight-loss products. So far, it’s been unapologetic.
The same ads have appeared in New York City’s Times Square and in the city’s sprawling subway system, according to Ad Age. So far the response has been muted, outside of some online chatter.
Advertising standards in the United States are far more lax than they are in Great Britain or the European Union. Companies merely need to state that their health claims have not been approved by federal regulators.
The ad’s implied body shaming is another matter. And don’t expect it to vanish soon. The company said it’s been effective in boosting sales.
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