Protein World’s beach ready campaign attracted a massive backlash of negative comments from Twitter users who saw the company’s poster as offensive, implying that women who did not have a body like model’s should not don a bikini.
But Alex Smith, planning director at Sense, called the campaign one of the most effective and innovative pieces of brand marketing in living memory.
“It bred "brand fans" by the thousand in an age where that term is sorely overused, and exploded the brand’s social following," he wrote.
“It turned a £250,000 media spend into a viral phenomenon. It has made a little known brand a household name in the circles it cares about. It has reaped £1 million in direct sales revenue.”
Just as polemical as the poster itself – if not more – was the way Protein World dealt with online criticism, seemingly revelling in the negative publicity and answering back to detractors in a less than reverent way.
But for Smith, this too worked in the company’s favour. “In a world where brands are still living with a 20th century mindset of trying to be all things to all people, having particular character and meaning is an increasingly valuable commodity,” he said.