The boss of a company which has attracted controversy over its “are you beach body ready?” ads says people complaining about them are “terrorists”.
“Are you beach body ready?” ask the adverts for meal replacement and protein products.
They have proven controversial on social media and 45,000 people have now signed a Change.org petition saying these Protein World adverts are “aiming to make [individuals] feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product”.
Commuters in London have taken to vandalising the adverts to promote their own messages about body image.
And a mass demonstration called “Taking Back the Beach” is now planned for Saturday.
Protein World Chief Executive Arjun Seth responded to the controversy and petition, telling Channel 4 News the adverts are “aspirational” and that he would only take notice if the petition were to reach 1,000,000 signatures.
He said the people complaining online and destroying his ads were a minority and “they’re terrorists, you can quote me on that”.
Miranda Fay, a PhD candidate at Kings College London and one of the self-confessed “vandals” of the advert wrote on Twitter “Dear @ProteinWorld: what an appalling insult to the victims of genuine terrorism.”
— ColletteLyons (@collette_lyons) April 27, 2015
Mr Seth told Channel 4 News that the controversy was very good for business. “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.”
He said that the people campaigning against the ads are “extremist, they shout a lot, these people are irrational and extremist, vandalising adverts”.
He said the vandalism of the company’s first outdoor advertising campaign, that he said was “aspirational”, amounted to criminal activity.
He said it is not a problem “as long as our customer base keeps on growing. We are a small British manufacturer. We don’t like backing down to a few people”.
Mr Seth said the campaign was the result of sending out ads to their customer base, and that this one came back as the most popular one.
On social media, Protein World wrote: “This is not feminism, it is extremism.”
The Advertising Standards Authority had not decided whether to launch an investigation launch an investigation on Friday.
— Miranda Fay (@mirandafay) April 22, 2015