I must admit that I was baffled by the controversy the 'Are you beach body ready' poster caused. For those of you who don't take the tube in London, it's a poster with a good looking women in a bikini. It's advertising weight loss supplements. In a way the reaction was predictable. These days, it seems wherever there are scantily clad women, with toned bellies or big boobs, there are haters. Those who say it's unrealistic to look like that, offensive to portray women in such a way, or creating pressure and ideals for women to live up to. I feel sorry for women who look like that. It must be awful facing such negativity.
But when I saw the outrage the latest Bugaboo Instagram post caused, it was my turn to be offended. For those who missed it, Bugaboo, a premium buggy brand, launched a buggy for running parents. The image depicts a model running with the buggy, wearing a bikini, with her daughter in tow.
I just have to ask this question out loud: what is wrong with showing a real mother, with a toned body, in a bikini, pushing her real daughter in a pram? Has our collective confidence sunk so low that we must now jump at any brand portraying toned, bikini clad women, mothers, or men for that matter? Would we accept criticism of unsexy women? And if we wouldn't, aren't we discriminating?
I read between the lines of comments that question the choice of wardrobe, the choice of model, the accusation that Bugaboo has failed to connect with parents on an emotional level. And the greatest sin of all, that it's unrealistic. Really? Firstly, I must have missed the memo that said ads have to be realistic to connect with people on an emotional level. Secondly, I find it offensive to any mother who likes to run in shorts and sports bras or happens to be fit.
Let's remind ourselves of a few facts. For those of you who aren't parents, Bugaboo is a sexy brand. It speaks to the woman in mothers and man in fathers. It's a premium item. It's often a fashion statement. Those who buy it are image conscious, whether they admit it or not. It's the buggy of choice for celebrities. And in this particular situation, they were launching a sporty running version. For sporty running parents.
As a brand strategist, the execution seems entirely consistent with what the brand stands for, who their audience is, or aspires to be, and the product point of difference. It's not meant to appeal to everyone. No ad is. That doesn't mean it's wrong, offensive or irrelevant. Even mothers can have toned bodies.
Yes, it's hard being a parent. Your body suffers. Your mind suffers. But let's drop that baggage and embrace women of all shapes and sizes. Even if they are wearing bikinis on a morning run. There is nothing wrong with being a sexy. And I never thought that's something women needed reminding of.