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Protein World’s Beach Body Ready ad ‘not offensive’: Watchdog

Luke Graham, special to CNBC

A controversial "beach body ready" advertising campaign has been deemed inoffensive by the British advertising watchdog, despite hundreds of complaints about the campaign.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation in May into the ads, which depict a slim model next to the headline: "Are you beach body ready?" But it ruled this week that the ads did not breach the advertising rules on harm, offence and social responsibility.

"We 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 … For that reason, we concluded the ad was not irresponsible," the ASA said in its ruling.

Protein World

Richard Staveley, Protein World's head of marketing, told CNBC he was "happy to see that common sense has prevailed".

"We shall continue our fight against the global obesity epidemic as we strive to make the world leaner, fitter, healthier and stronger," he added.

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But although the ads were not deemed to breach advertising rules, the ASA banned them from appearing in the same way again due to concerns about health claims.

The billboards for weight-loss company Protein World kicked up a storm in the U.K. after they appeared in the London Underground rail network earlier this year.

A petition against the ad, which promoted a weight-loss and meal-replacement product, was signed by 71,000 people. The ASA received 378 official complaints about the campaign.

In addition to the petition, around 100 people attended a protest against the ad called "Taking back the beach" which was organized in London's Hyde Park.

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