You can discuss the pros and cons of using a beautiful model with a seemingly perfect body to promote a health supplement until the cows come home but nobody can be particularly surprised by the tactic. Since when didn't attractive women and men adorn posters to show how fabulous a particular product or service is? You can argue it's puts pressure on women to look like a model but the same is true the other way round.
How many men are going to look as good as James Bond coming out of the sea in their swim shorts this summer? How many felt they could no longer watch Poldark on the BBC because Ross was so attractive with a particularly beach-friendly body he happened to show off for the cameras every other episode? How many guys become outraged when middle-aged men have their "moobs" (that's male boobs to you and I) photographed in the tabloids and laughed at during their summer holiday?
So call it what you like, but you can't call it sexist without telling advertisers to not feature attractive men who have worked hard down at the gym to get a six-pack because it's unrealistic and the average man is too busy holding down a job and helping to run a family to be pumping iron for the body beautiful.
It may sound harsh, but it's a reality. Men and women will find themselves next to beach-ready bodies this summer regardless of whether their's is or not. For the record, mine is most definitely not beach ready but that doesn't mean I don't think David Beckham should be allowed to advertise skimpy pants with the perfect physique he's spend a lifetime working hard on.
What the whole debacle really shows us, then, is that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Sure, the company is getting some harsh comments on social media, which it could probably deal with a little more professionally. However, I'd quite happily lay down a chunky Kit Kat -- my betting stake of choice -- that not a single one of the people complaining has been or will ever be a customer. So by thrusting the brand into the limelight, they're helping to shape it as an entity with a very strong message that it's there for people who want a great beach body and doesn't really get a stuff what anyone wants to say about political correctness and feminism.
So that's not to say I'm a fan of supplements. I've spoken to so many doctors for articles who advise they might well be leading to the healthiest urine in the world, but may not do too much in the body. Exercise, eating properly, drinking responsibly and sleeping well are their typical four pillars of advice that I try (and often fail) to live by and pass on to my children, including two daughters. Probably like any other parent, having daughters prompted my concern over the skeletal models who are airbrushed to look "perfect" yet may well hide a multitude of health sins underneath -- but while our kids will always be perfect to their parents, my son and daughters will have to learn there's likely to be someone richer, more attractive and more beach-ready than they are. If they feel that an ads rub this in, then fine -- don't buy from that brand.
If people were complaining about the efficacy of Protein World's products to give such a perfect body, they'd have far more of a point, because even by the founder's confession, much of the Australian model's beach-readiness can be attributed to constant workouts. In not certain how much of a role a supplement plays, but would far rather see that questioned than the morality of using a pretty model to advertise a product.
All the complaints have done is boosted sales and given Protein World an edge akin to the Adidas "There Will Be Haters" campaign.
I'm sure there are many products out there whose creators are looking to build an edgy brand around who would love nothing more than to "fail" as spectacularly as Protein World has.