London Bans 'Unhealthy' Ads
The Chicago Tribune headline “London Mayor Bans Tube Ads That Promote Unhealthy Body Image” raises more questions than the article published on Tuesday answers. What’s unhealthy? Will, for instance, ads warning about the dangers of anorexia be banned, as well? What does “banned” mean? Will it stop with subway ads? What recourse do marketers have?
“London Mayor Sadiq Khan has banned advertising that promotes [an] unhealthy body image on the city's subway network,” reads the article the Chicago Tribune picked up from the Associated Press. “Starting next month, Transport for London will not allow ads that cause pressure to conform to ‘unrealistic or unhealthy body shape.’ Khan says that as the father of two teenage girls, he is ‘extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies. It is high time it came to an end.’ ”
Graeme Craig of TFL says the difference between these ads and others is commuters can’t avoid them.
For instance, the ad with a bikini-clad woman asking commuters “Are you beach body ready?” raised ire last year. [Author’s note: It also prompted a meme in which consumers with regular body shapes posed in bathing suits on beaches and answered, “Yes.”]
A ban like this may recall a 1964 free speech case in the United States in which Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart opined, “I know it [obscenity/pornography] when I see it."
Comments below the article were mostly not suitable for print, but a few do address marketers’ concerns:
- Festivus16 says: “This is just the beginning ...”
- The Truth..The Whole Truth writes about the Beach Body ad: “What's ‘unhealthy’ about that image?”
- Dr.Handsome states: “This … mayor doesn't know the difference between unhealthy and unrealistic. Unfortunately for them, the U.K. is becoming as fat as the U.S.A.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.