Unless you’ve been holed up in a cave on the outskirts of nowhere, you’ll be aware of the whole ‘Protein World ad thing’. You know, the poster that’s angered a lot of people:
And yeah, they’re not wrong to be angry. How do you know if you’re beach body ready? You just turn up at a beach. That’s literally it. Now, initially, I was on the outrage bandwagon. For about 25 seconds. But then I thought about it, and a couple of things became very apparent.
One: this ad is not a million miles away from what you’ll find in the average women’s weekly magazine. Come early spring, they’re full of diet tips and exercise plans on how to look “beach body ready” – and not only that, the worst offenders print photos of famous women in bikinis and list reasons why these women shouldn’t be wearing bikinis. They circle tiny overspills of flesh in red, and print things about how Celebrity X has put on weight since the breakdown of her relationship, and pass judgment on Celebrity Y’s “post-baby body” (and if ever there’s a phrase that needs to be banned outright, it’s that one). Yet to my knowledge, no-one’s protesting outside Heat magazine.
Two: this poster is really boring. Simply from a marketing point of view, it’s nobody’s finest work. The bright yellow and cold grey colour combination can’t save it; the whole campaign is yawn-inducing. Why? Using an airbrushed-to-the-hilt, scantily-clad woman to sell something was a tired strategy ten years ago, never mind in 2015. It reeks of a last-resort idea, sketched out hastily at 4.55pm, when the team had to come up with something before the end of the day in order to be able give it to the boss in the morning. It’s just not very clever, is it? The amount of thought, creativity and imagination that’s gone into that poster is LIMITED, to say the least. And yet look at the publicity it’s generated. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Protein World PR guys are toasting their breakfast meetings with champagne, cackling with glee at the column inches, the think-pieces, the Twitter trending.
However, the above doesn’t mean that I disagree with any of the protests that have come about as a result of the advert. I am wholly in favour of them. I love that girls have gathered in swimwear to stand by the posters; I love the alternative images of the ad that are doing the rounds on the internet; I am fine with people defacing the posters. And some really smart stuff has been written
in response to it.
But do you know what would have made a good protest? A quiet, stealthy boycott of the company and their products. Perhaps combined with simply tearing down or defacing the posters, if you want to show you’re really miffed. It’s clearly designed to be provocative; the sweetest comeback would have been to not react, to not give them the attention and the publicity – but to also not buy the products. I’m not business-minded in the slightest, but I should imagine it’s quite worrying when people suddenly stop buying your product and aren’t even mentioning it.
Next time, we should hit them where it’s really going to hurt – in the bank balance.
I have a habit of forgetting how much I like John Mayer, but DB played me this track recently and I can’t stop listening to it. There’s something about it that makes me want to have a little cry though.