Before investigating the issues raised below we told Protein World that, due to our concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims, the ad could not appear again in its current form.
While the ad was prohibited from appearing again solely on those grounds, we undertook a separate investigation to establish whether the ad was in breach of the advertising rules on harm, offence and social responsibility.
A poster for a slimming product, seen on the London Underground network, stated "ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?" and featured an image of a toned and athletic woman wearing a bikini.
378 complainants, who raised a range of issues around offence and potential harm, challenged whether:
1. the ad implied that a body shape which differed from the 'idealised' one presented was not good enough or in some way inferior and was, therefore, offensive; and
2. the combination of an image of a very slim, toned body and the headline "ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?" was socially irresponsible in the context of an ad for a slimming product.
Protein World said that the phrase "beach body" was commonly used and understood to mean looking at one's best. Therefore, the question posed in the ad, "Are you beach body ready?" was intended to invite the viewer to consider whether they were in the shape they wanted to be. The ad featured a model who they said used their products and who they felt had a healthy figure. They did not believe that the ad implied everyone should look like the model or that the text and image were irresponsible.
Exterion Media said they had obtained pre-publication advice from the CAP Copy Advice team on whether the ad was irresponsible or likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
1. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the Copy Advice team had seen the ad prior to it appearing and advised that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. We recognised that "beach body" was a relatively well understood term that for some people had connotations of a toned, athletic physique similar to the image of the model in the ad. We considered that it also had a broader meaning - that of feeling sufficiently comfortable and confident with one's physical appearance to wear swimwear in a public environment. 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.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach of that rule.
2. Not upheld
Although we understood the claim "Are you beach body ready?" invited readers to think about their figures, we did not consider the image of the model would shame women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing swimwear in public. For that reason, we concluded the ad was not irresponsible.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising), but did not find it in breach of that rule.
No further action necessary.