An ad campaign for online health store Protein World has faced public backlash from campaigners and bloggers who have branded the campaign ‘disgraceful’.
The posters which features Aussie bikini clad model Renee Somerfield can be seen at strategic locations all over the London Underground asking commuters ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’
Twitter users have criticised the posters for insinuating that women who do not have the fit physique of the model are not ready to head to the beach in a bikini.
— Jennifer Leigh Allen (@jleighallen) April 23, 2015
— ColletteLyons (@collette_lyons) April 27, 2015
Some of the posters have also been vandalised with comments left by Tube users, prompting Protein World CEO Arjun Seth to brand protesters ‘Irrational’ and ‘Extremists’, before adding that their actions were tantamount to ‘criminal activity’.
In an interview with Channel 4, Seth told the channel that the controversy has actually been good for business as it’s got people talking.
“It’s good – we gained about 20,000 followers in the last few days. Sales have gone up significantly. What people like is we are standing up for our brand.”
Just as well as they’ve had criticism, there seem to be a legion of fans also rooting for the company’s products claiming it’s helped them lose weight.
— Emily Baldwin (@EmilBaldwin) April 27, 2015
Impressed with @ProteinWorld sticking up for us 'skinny girls' The only body shaming going on here is from'feminists' We are real women too!
— Katie-Jayne♥ (@Katie__Jayne_) April 27, 2015
Somerfield who appears in the ad has also reacted to the controversy. She told Huffington Post that she protesters were taking the wrong approach by body shaming her while claiming to be fighting body shaming.
“I think nearly every ad campaign you have ever seen is open to interpretation. But saying the ad is body shaming by body shaming the image is very contradictory, two wrongs don’t make a right.”
“I agree that ALL bodies are ‘beach body ready’. Skinny, curvy, muscular, petite, tall, short, young and old. Confidence is beautiful no matter what size you are…. Your reflection doesn’t define your worth.”
“I am a real person behind the image. I work very hard and live a healthy and active lifestyle which is why Protein World chose me for their campaign. I couldn’t work every day as a full-time model by starving myself, dieting or not looking after my body. Nourish your body, be kind to it and it will love you right back, no matter your size,” said the 23-year-old health enthusiast.
A Change.org petition launched to create awareness against the campaign now has over 45, 000 signatures and counting. The Advertising Standards Agency is said to be assessing complaints but is yet to decide whether the ads violate any regulations.