The Protein World Beach Body Ready advert which caused a social media storm last month has escaped a ban from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), despite racking up 378 complaints.
The poster ad for the slimming product, which showed a woman in a bikini alongside the text 'Are You Beach Body Ready?', resulted in a huge backlash from London Underground commuters who raised concerns that it was socially irresponsible and presented an unhealthy body image.
The ASA had already told Protein World to remove the ad before its investigations due to its concerns about a range of health and weight loss claims. and undertook a separate investigation to establish whether the ad was in breach of the advertising rules on harm, offence and social responsibility.
The watchdog said that although it understood the claim 'Are you beach body ready?' invited readers to think about their figures, it did not consider the image of the model would shame women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing swimwear in public.
Speaking to The Drum eating disorder charity Beat said that it found the ruling "extremely disappointing" and argued that the advert is irresponsible.
"While we recognise advertising and the media cannot cause eating disorders - they are much more complex than that - we are aware how toxic images can be to an individual," commented Rebecca Field, head of communications.
"While continuing to promote a slender body image as the only one we should aspire to the Protein World advert advertises diet products, only adding to the harmful effect it could have on those susceptible to an eating disorder. Every body is different and Beat will continue to campaign to see a wide variety of shapes and sizes represented in the media.”
Protein World had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
No futher action is necessary.