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How London Weight Management could have turn their advertising disaster into a PR success

They say offense is the best defense. London Weight Management, on the other hand, dug itself further into a PR nightmare with its statement defending their ad.

By doing so, London Weight Management lost an opportunity to score some PR points from the negative audience.

It all started when TV host Anita Kapoor blogged that the London Weight Management’s TV advertisement “portray women as pathetic, unworthy individuals. Losers on every level if they are overweight; winners at every level if they are slim”.

London Weight Management Capsule from Stan Chee on Vimeo.

Anita also summarized each scene of the ad. For example, she wrote that the scene showing “a woman with a crying baby, looking over the edge of a building’, created the impression that post partum depression and suicide were being trivialised.

Anitia’s post was reblogged at The Online Citizen and the readers got extremely worked up by how London Weight Management portrayed obese women.

It took awhile for London Weight Management to reply. In their defense, the weight lost company said they “have not breached any regulation in accordance to the local regulation”.

In addition, the marketing and communication manager shared that the they “are neither discriminating nor nauseating the obese women in this territory.”

Anita has replied in the blog saying “The law? What law? It is precisely because there is no law that London Weight Management were able to release this ad on air and online”.

The explanation from London Weight Management was also not accepted by the public.

One reader of Yahoo News wrote,

Getting approval from Media Development Authority of Singapore does not make the advertisment any less distasteful, if the company cannot tell the difference between distasteful and illegal then i hope that their potential customers will be able to tell the difference. Ladies please note that a company that is willing to exploit your low self esteem and low confidence in such a manner, they will stop at nothing to sell you a dream, which they might not be able to deliver.
Bottom line will always be about bottom line -- Their $$$$$.

One of the biggest problem in London Weight Management reply was because they were not asked to take down the ad by law, they are allowed to continue with the ad that discriminate.

Furthermore, by saying the advertisement neither discriminate nor nauseating obese women when the advertisement shows that obese women are discriminated in their personal and public life is itself doublespeak.

So how could have London Weight Management handled this better?

As London Weight Management based the advertisement on a true story, they should have taken the opportunity to highlight that their real case study was indeed discriminated against when she was overweight.

They should also encourage women who felt they were discriminated upon because of their weight should speak up and they would stand behind any women who are willing to speak up against such discrimination.

London Weight Management should have also taken the opportunity to share that while weight lost did help their real life customer feel more comfortable about herself, women suffering from depression should seek professional help and get support to family.

London Weight Management should have also emphasised that exercise and a healthy diet is still an important part of any weight lost program.


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