They’ve kicked up quite a storm beyond the world of marketing. And after all the furore, I just thought I’d throw in my two cents.
The ad is obviously made for a specific target audience. But by definition, if your ad appeals to a particular audience, it won’t appeal to others – and in some cases, it might offend.
Some people will look at that and say ‘well, it’s not meant for them – so it doesn’t matter. The job of the ad is to sell protein products to body-conscious fitness enthusiasts.’
Perhaps. But the problem is that it isn’t just an ad.
It’s in the public eye. It has influence.
In the same way that professional footballers can get in trouble for things they do off the field – because they’re role models – so too should marketers be held accountable for the way their ads influence the world.
Because the message the creators want to convey, isn’t the only message that the ad is advocating.
The Protein World ad is saying that you could look like that if you used those products.
Great, for some.
But it’s also advocating a certain body image, a certain lifestyle and a certain way of thinking.
It implies that that’s a beach body. Which in turn implies that other figures or body shapes aren’t beach bodies – which is far more negative than it is positive.
The problem though is that some marketers’ moral compasses point only towards money.
The ad might well get results. It might well boost sales.
But an ad that boosts sales and has a negative impact on body image issues is still irresponsible.
The same way a guy who tells a sexist joke that makes 10 people laugh and one person cry is still sexist.
Because it’s not just a joke.
And it’s not just an ad.