40,000 sign beach body ad petition

Published: Monday 27th April 2015 by The News Editor

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More than 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for the removal of an advertisement which asks “Are you beach body ready?”

The Protein World advert, which appears in London Underground stations, features a model in a bikini and is advertising the brand’s weight loss collection.

The change.org petition, which has more than 43,000 signatures, says: “Protein World is directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product.

“Perhaps not everyone’s priority is having a ‘beach body’ (by the way, what is that?), and making somebody feel guilty for not prioritising it by questioning their personal choices is a step too far.

“A body’s function is far more intricate and important than looking ‘beach ready’, so in fact it is Protein World who have confused their priorities, if anyone.”

Critics of the advertising billboard have started the hashtag #everybodysready on Twitter, while some have posted pictures of the poster with writing scrawled across it, such as “f*** off”.

Protein World’s Twitter account tweeted that it is “Here to motivate, not commiserate”, and used the hashtag #getagrip.

According to its website, Protein World is “leading the protein revolution with a new and innovative range of pure, GMO-free supplements to help you become healthier, leaner, fitter and stronger”.

It says their weight-loss supplements will “help raise your metabolism and burn fat fast”.

Katie Hopkins, who has been outspoken about weight in the past, tweeted: “Chubsters, quit vandalising Protein World ads and get your arse running on the road. Feminism isn’t an excuse for being fat. Eat less move more.”

She added: “Ads for ‘beach body ready’ vandalised. Society has huge acceptance for being fat – but masses of abuse for being skinny.”

She also tweeted: “Off for a run. Angry chubsters – feel free to catch me and tell me about your ‘medical issues’ @ProteinWorld”

Richard Staveley, head of marketing at Protein World, said it was “great” that Hopkins had added her voice to the debate.

“I think much of what is being said and shared online Katie is obviously in agreement. It’s great to have somebody of such high profile getting involved at all, because it’s obviously something that we want to be discussed.

“We want to encourage discussion on this. Ultimately we want to encourage a healthier, fitter nation. We want to encourage everybody to be the very best version of themselves.

“It has been quite odd how many people we’ve found who are far quicker to fit shame than fat shame.

“And you know if that makes us bad then so be it, and if Katie Hopkins is in agreement with us then we’re delighted,” he said.

Last week Hopkins was blasted by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights after she likened migrants to cockroaches.

Jordanian Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the reality television star had used language in her Sun column similar to that used by newspapers and radio stations in Rwanda before the 1994 genocide which led to hundreds of thousands of people being slaughtered.

Mr Staveley said Protein World has no official relationship with Hopkins, adding: “We don’t endorse any of her other comments or views necessarily.”

The company’s Twitter account retweeted Hopkins but Mr Staveley said a retweet does not mean endorsement, adding that it was “great” to have someone with such a “strong following” wade in to the debate.

He said there is “no concern” on behalf of the company regarding the petition.

“We won’t be removing the ad. I mean, there’s more than two and a half million people use the London Underground every day and, like I say, sales have considerably jumped, so regardless of that 40,000 I think I can comfortably say that we’ve had … it’s been better for us, there’s been far more positive reaction than negative,” he said.

Mr Staveley said they “always welcome constructive criticism” but said there were “some serial perpetual complainers out there”.

He said some of the criticism has demonstrated “irrational extremist behaviour”, such as the “vandalising” of adverts.

Mr Staveley said Protein World is “not a faceless corporation that’s just going to sit silently”, adding: “We’re a brand with a personality and that means there will be certain level of engagement across our social media channels which might take some people by surprise.”

He said he fully endorsed that engagement, adding: “That’s part of our strategy.”

The company used the hashtag #getagrip in a tweet.

Mr Staveley said if significant “vitriol” is directed towards Protein World, they are not going to “sit back and ignore it”.

Published: Monday 27th April 2015 by The News Editor

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