LIFESTYLE

Protein World's 'Beach Body Ready' Ad Ruled 'Not Offensive' By Advertising Watchdog

01/07/2015 10:49 BST | Updated 01/07/2015 10:59 BST

It's the "body shaming" campaign that caused widespread backlash and disgust.

Now the infamous "Are you beach body ready?" advert from Protein World has been ruled inoffensive by the Advertising Standards Authority - much to the dismay of the 378 people who formally complained about it.

beach body ready

The advertisement promotes weight loss aids and features bikini-clad Australian model Renee Sommerfield asking onlookers whether they are "beach body ready".

Nearly 400 people complained to ASA that the poster implied that other body shapes were inferior and objectified women.

Shortly after the advertisements appeared on the London Underground, a petition was launched to have them removed which more than 70,000 people signed.

Three weeks later, the campaign was removed from the underground completely.

At the time, a spokesperson for ASA revealed that the watchdog had launched an investigation to establish if the ad was harmful and added that it "can't appear again in its current form".

Following the influx of complaints, ASA was asked to look into whether the image used in the poster was socially irresponsible.

They said that they recognised "beach body" was an understood term, that for some people has connotations of a "toned, athletic physique similar to the image of the model in the ad".

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The watchdog's verdict was that the term "beach body" could also imply that a person feels "sufficiently comfortable and confident with one's physical appearance to wear swimwear in a public environment".

"The ad featured a model who they said used their products and who they felt had a healthy figure," said ASA.

"They did not believe that the ad implied everyone should look like the model or that the text and image were irresponsible."

ASA added: "We considered the claim 'ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?' prompted readers to think about whether they were in the shape they wanted to be for the summer and we did not consider that the accompanying image implied that a different body shape to that shown was not good enough or was inferior.

"We concluded that the headline and image were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence."

But Rebecca Field, head of communications for eating disorders charity, Beat, completely disagrees.

She told HuffPost UK Lifestyle: "We find the ruling from the ASA extremely disappointing and we would argue that the advert is irresponsible.

"While we recognise advertising and the media cannot cause eating disorders - they are much more complex than that - we are aware how toxic images can be to an individual.

"While continuing to promote a slender body image as the only one we should aspire to the Protein World advert advertises diet products, only adding to the harmful effect it could have on those susceptible to an eating disorder."

She added: "Every body is different and Beat will continue to campaign to see a wide variety of shapes and sizes represented in the media.”

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