In the bad old days, a company would put up a dumb or otherwise insulting ad and the public would simply put up with it. As the fitness and sports nutrition store Protein World just discovered, those days are long gone.
The weight loss ad featuring a bikini-clad woman and the heading "Are you Beach Body Ready?" prompted London Underground passengers to go all Mad Men on the company's ass, defacing and otherwise modifying the sexist posters.
To be clear, I don't condone vandalism and other acts of civil disobedience, yet I must admit ads like this one beg to be removed and/or edited:
“If my body is on a beach, then it is ready. Thank you very much.”
“Don’t worry about it. You look gorgeous just the way you are.”
“Stop encouraging women to starve themselves.”
The affirmative backlash included a rebranded Twitter hashtag -- #EachBodysReady -- and a Change.org petition with more than 40,000 backers.
"In my mind, getting beach body ready would involve slathering myself in suncreen," wrote blogger Fiona Longmuir. "I am so tired of the message that women have to make some kind of effort in order to be socially acceptable. Is this kind of guilt tripping and body shaming really the best way to shift your products?"
Far from being contrite at the criticism, Protein World dug its heels in deeper, posting anti-feminist tweets and accusing anyone who didn't support the ad of harbouring “insecurities.”
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Unfortunately, all the buzz has so far resulted in boosted awareness for Protein World - proof that even negative publicity is still publicity. In other cases, though, public opinion has proved strong enough to tap the nail in a company's coffin.
Obviously it's a free market and businesses can, and will continue to, sell and promote products in ways we won't necessarily agree with. But we are no longer a passive audience. Social media allows us to voice our disapproval loud and clear.
Do ads like Beach Body offend you as a consumer, or is that simply our "insecurities" talking?
Image Source: Twitter