London Mayor Sadiq Khan is making good on his election promise to ban unrealistic body images in advertising from the Transport for London (TfL) system.
From next month the TfL will not allow ads that could be seen to pressurise people into conforming into a certain body shape.
A revised set of policies and standards will be implemented, along with a new group – including the outdoor advertisers Exterion Media and JCDecaux – to monitor the transport system.
“As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies,” said Khan “It is high time it came to an end.
“Nobody should feel pressurised, while they travel on the Tube or bus, into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies and I want to send a clear message to the advertising industry about this.”
While not mentioned explicitly in the Mayor’s press release, the notion of unrealistic body images gained international attention when protein company Protein World slapped a picture of a bikini-clad woman questioning if commuters were ‘bikini body ready’.
Many social media users who also rode the London Underground took to their favourite platforms to vent their annoyance and outrage at the ads.
And while in the midst of PR storm many companies back down and apologise, Protein World fuelled the fire by hitting back at complainants, even telling one user to “grow some balls”.
However, the crackdown means images such as this are likely to not appear in future on the TfL system which includes advertising space on the Tube, Overground, DLR, Victoria Coach Station, Trams, bus shelters, buses and on-street advertising. Roughly 12,000 advertisements appear each year within the system.
“Advertising on our network is unlike TV, online and print media,” put in Graeme Craig, TfL commercial development director.
“Our customers cannot simply switch off or turn a page if an advertisement offends or upsets them and we have a duty to ensure the copy we carry reflects that unique environment. We want to encourage great advertising that engages people and enhances the transport network.”