May 2015

Beach Body Ready Ad a Battle Of Brand and Reputation

The recent ‘Are You Beach Body Ready’ advert across the London Underground has generated over 67,000 signatures to an online petition (at the time of positing), celebrity endorsement, national negative media coverage, 126 complaints to the ASA and a protest rally in Hyde Park.

According to the Guardian, the head of marketing for Protein World was not concerned, because two and a half million people who use the underground have had chance to see the advert and sales have jumped.

After all, any PR is good PR isn’t it?

So, is advertising about sales at all costs? Does reputation really matter if sales are on the up?

The story, being played out with the Protein World brand in a very public arena, is the perfect storm, a concentrated burst of public opinion taking place in the modern marketing world; reputation vs brand.

For those who are purely brand focused, a greater visibility and rise in sales can only be benefited by an advert that is receiving so much attention. For organisations that insist on measuring success by sales, this could be classed as a strong performance.

Yet the contemporary, prudent organisation understand how brand is just one part of reputation. For them, a successful campaign and brand is one that helps them to build the intangible asset of reputation in support of strong business performance.

This is work that gives consideration to all stakeholders and focuses on aligning relationships, process and systems internally and externally.

The very telling aspect of this battle was the tone of response used by the company to the outcries on social media, they included #getagrip.

For us this poses a number of concerning and fundamental questions about the care being taken over reputation and the longer-term view of the company and its brand.

A reputation-conscious, savvy organisation would always seek to ask themselves some fundamental questions before launching this potentially controversial advertising campaign.

  • Are we happy for this campaign to sit alone and be measured purely by sales or do we want it to support our long-term reputation strategy as a business?
  • Do we track and know our audiences perceptions and the current reputation we hold with them?
  • Are we prepared for transparency? Are we confident internally that our staff  respond in a way that reflects the reputation we aspire to hold.


All too often, failure to listen acutely, to really understand all stakeholders and to have the capability to engage with them to support reputation sees falling long-term sales and ultimately a failing share price.