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Beach Body Ready

on the offensive in defence of the brand

Undoubtedly, the polarizing Protein World ad campaign, ‘Are you Beach Body Ready?’ has been the prevalent advertising news item this week.

The perceived “fat shaming” inherent in the ad has offended some people, who see them as directly targeting individuals to make them feel inferior about their body. This has led to online attacks and the defacing of the posters.

I’m kind of torn on this, in trying to see both sides. But one thing’s for sure, Protein World are certainly not sitting on the fence. They have taken to the offensive, in defence of their brand, primarily via their Twitter account, with a fierce and sometimes gob-smacking wit.

And you have to say that has worked for them.

Some commentators have gone all hyperbolic, saying it is the most effective and innovative campaign in recent history.

Certainly effective. But innovative? Not really. They just went with an image of a very attractive and fit looking woman on a poster, whose very image is the goal for most of their customers. This has been done countless times before, there are similar images out there now doing the same thing. I don’t think anyone could genuinely claim to have foreseen this reaction as part of some great marketing plan.

Some commentators have gone all hyperbolic, saying it is the most effective and innovative campaign in recent history.

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I truly don’t think Protein World set out to target people to make them feel awful. In fact, they have very much targeted their niche market. They just went with the advert that feedback from customers indicated was most popular. Admittedly, judging from their Twitter followers, that customer base does appear to be a lot of vanity-driven people.

But whatever you think about the morals and priorities of such people it does not matter; they exist, they want to get fit/lose weight and buy a quality product to achieve this. Protein World is not Dove.

Poster advertising is a little like carpet bombing. Clearly a lot of people who have no interest in this product will see it, and a side effect will be that for some of them it will resonate on a negative, more personal level.

I don’t have a problem with the defence of the brand but, as a company CEO, I’m not sure you can liken these people to terrorists.

Although, I suppose you can say what you want, especially if you are running Protein World’s social media.

Some of the twitter responses make me feel very uneasy, as covered in this piece by Juliette Burton. Such a lack of empathy and consideration never sits well, whether you dress it up in the guise of an aggressive social media strategy or not.

Some of their PR however, I do think is poor. When referring to the defacers, Protein World’s CEO, Arjun Seth said: They’re terrorists, you can quote me on that.

Though part of me, I must confess, in an age where everyone is so scared to say anything with personality or controversy, does admire the general brazen, couldn’t-care attitude of the Twitter output.

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It’s good – we gained about 20,000 followers in the last few days. Sales have gone up significantly. What people like is we are standing up for our brand.

58,000 people have currently signed the petition on Change.org. Do you consider that a huge number, or a bit disappointing? I’m not sure. Considering over a million people signed a petition just to get a buffoon back presenting a popular TV programme…well that lends some perspective.

And the Hyde park “Taking back the Beach” Protest currently only has 739 people currently attending, according to Facebook. I’m sure more will turn up, but you would have to conclude the vast majority of people have not been compelled to make a stand against this ad.

Protein World has an 84% female customer base. Their support, judging from Twitter, is exceptionally strong. This fiercely loyal customer base is now growing off the back of this campaign/publicity. As Arjun Seth states:

"It’s good – we gained about 20,000 followers in the last few days. Sales have gone up significantly. What people like is we are standing up for our brand."

It has to be considered an exceptionally successful campaign. Yes, they have also made a lot of enemies that didn’t even know of their existence last week, but these people were never going to buy their product. Their relationship with their customers, along with their brand awareness, is now strengthened significantly.

 

 

 


 

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30/04/2015

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