Plus-size women's wear label Simply Be has launched a campaign which encourages women of all sizes to embrace their bodies on the beach this summer suitably named 'Every Body is Beach Body Ready.'
The high street label introduced its new campaign this weekend in response to a recent advert from Protein World, which depicts a slim and toned model in a bikini asking the public 'Are you Beach Body Ready?' The yellow advertisement, which has been spotted all over the London underground for the past three weeks, was originally designed to promote the company's new weight loss collection. However the poster's insinuating undertones has caused sparked a wave of backlash across the globe for implying only certain body types are suitable to display on the beach. Several images of vandalised posters have been shared online as well as doctored versions of the 'body-shaming' ad.
Simply Be counters 'fat-shaming' ad with #EveryBodyisBeachBodyReady'
"You don’t need a certain type of figure to be acceptable on the beach (or anywhere else). You've got a body? Take it to the beach and you've got a beach body!" argues Simply Be on its website. The campaign kicked off this weekend with a group of male and female protesters gathering in Hyde Park, in London against the 'fat-shaming' context implied by the advert. Protesters donned bathing suits and bikinis, with a group writing 'This is a Beach Body' in neon paint across their bodies. The protest coincided with the launch of Simply Be own version of poster at London's Knightsbridge's tube station, which features plus-size model Jocelyn Corona in a bikini.
The plus-size label has also kicked off a viral campaign, #SimplyBekini, inviting its customers to take a photograph in their favourite bikini and share it on Instagram for the chance to win 100 pounds voucher for Simply Be. "The Protein World campaign appeared just after our own ‘beach-body’ messaging launched – but with a very different philosophy!" commented Ed Watson, Creative Director at Simply Be. "While the #SimplyBekini campaign advocates merely putting your bikini on to get beach ready, the Protein World message challenged women to shed the pounds. Because it so literally flew in the face of our ethos of self-acceptance, we wanted to get our message out further, hence taking ad space in one of London’s busiest tube stations."
A petition has been launched on Change.org asking the company to take down its advert, gathering over 70,000 signatures to date. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the orginal advert after receiving 360 complains and reportedly investigating whether the ads "breaks harm and offence rules or is socially irresponsible." However, the original reason behind their decision to block the ad is said to have stemmed from "concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims made in the ad."
Protein World stands by advertisement in spite of controversy
Despite the controversy caused by the advert, Protein World continues to stand by their advertisement and refuse to listen to a "vociferous, vocal minority of protesters." In an interview with Breitbart, the 18 month old online company's Head of Global Marketing, Richard Staveley said: "The campaign absolutely, categorically will not be pulled by Protein World. We have 300,000 happy customers and we will not pander to this a particularly vociferous minority. There’s no body shaming going on. Genuinely, 100 percent of this was driven by talking to our female customers and asking them what they want."
And whilst protest against the advertisement was originally designed to bring attention to the 'body-shaming' undertone, it has inadvertently helped boost Protein World's online profile and increased sales. "I couldn't have dreamt or hoped of having our advert reproduced more times across the news networks and social media as it has been done," pointed out Staveley. "This protest has been absolutely phenomenal for us and entirely counter-productive for them...We've added 5000 new customers. Sales are booming."