We have mentioned the ASA's Copy Advice Team a number of times, our suggestion being that it is sensible to follow their advice. It would appear that Protein World is either not a follower of this blog or chose to ignore it.
Everyone remotely involved in advertising must have heard of the poster campaign they ran which featured a slim blonde in a brief yellow bikini in the middle of the heading: Are You Beach Body Ready?
It certainly generated a response, one that may or may not have been that which the authors hoped. The ASA received 378 complaints, most suggesting that it idealised one body shape and/or that it was socially irresponsible for a slimming advert.
There were demonstrations, campaigns, a Facebook page (of course) and examples of criminal damage, all of which was hardly to be resented by a company that was, until then, largely unknown. There were a series of parodies of the ad, most notably one from Carlsberg which featured a bikini-clad bottle of their lager with the heading: Are You Beer Body Ready? All this added to a Protein World brand awareness that they would not dared to have hoped for in the planning stage.
Remarkably, the company, not unfamiliar with attention from the ASA, having at least nine different complaints upheld in the past, had approached the Copy Advice Team with regards the 'beach body' advert. Their decision was that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence. And so it proved.
It was all the more remarkable therefore that the ASA found in Protein World's favour.
It would appear that the advice to follow that of the Copy Advice Team was at fault. So was it worth the risk?
Protein World had a small following of customers who were likely to be more than a little body aware. The poster was unlikely to affront them. If the desire was to get the company noticed, then it has been a tremendous success.
The suggestion to accept the Copy Advice Team's decision still stands for more established companies. Ask yourself if your customers would welcome being associated with you if complaints of objectifying women were aimed your way.
That said, it was a cool move.