Are you beach body ready?
The Protein World advertisement that stirred up controversy across the pond has hit the States, and online commenters have already started buzzing about the poster, which shows a slender model in a yellow bikini with the tagline, “Are you beach body ready?”
“Ooh @ProteinWorld has hit New York, and they’ve upped the ante. Skyscraper-sized ‘fat shaming’? Your move, protestors,” one Twitter user posted Friday beside a snapshot of the towering billboard.
Other users suggested that the weight-loss supplement company’s N.Y.C. move was a “middle finger” to the body-image activists who originally slammed the campaign overseas.
And they were right.
“It’s a big middle finger to everybody who bothered to sign that stupid petition in the U.K. It s a fat F-U to them all. You could say that the London protestors helped pay for the New York campaign,” the company’s marketing head Richard Staveley told Breitbart London.
The Times Square poster is the start of a larger campaign beginning Monday on the New York subway system, centered on the Union Square station. It will also feature 8-second digital spots on “every New York subway entrance,” said Staveley.
He continued, “The Times Square billboard will really ram it home. Then, from Monday, we’ve got ads booked on 50 percent of all of the New York subway’s rolling stock. It will be an unmissable blanket coverage of Renee and yellow.”
The marketer isn’t concerned about how New Yorkers will react. He compared the strategy to the large-scale underwear campaigns of David Beckham and Justin Bieber that were once around in the city.
“While we can only hope that we get the backlash, I think people pay attention in New York without wanting to rampage, scream and shout and sign petitions,” he told the outlet.
The New York sky-high signage arrived just a month after the U.K.-based company received threats, vandalism and protests by critics who argued the ads were sending an unhealthy and unrealistic message to women about body expectations.
They were eventually banned across the U.K. due to concerns about “a range of health and weight loss claims made in the ad,” the Advertising Standards Authority told PEOPLE in a statement.
The company Tweeted on April 27, “This is not feminism, it is extremism. #getagrip #BeachBodyRead #Winning.”
Somerfield also spoke out last month about the uproar, telling HuffPost U.K. Lifestyle that the criticism felt “very contradictory.”
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She told the publication, “I think nearly every ad campaign you have ever seen is open to interpretation. But saying the ad is body shaming by body shaming the image is very contradictory. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”