London Commuters Will No Longer Be Subject To Body Confidence Crushing Ads

Starting in July, commuters on London transportation will no longer be inundated with advertisements promoting unrealistic or unhealthy body ideals.

Mayor Sadiq Khan is making good on his campaign promise to ban advertisements “likely to create body confidence issues, particularly among young people” from the Transport for London (TfL) network. This includes approximately 12,000 ads on the London Tube, overground trains, trams, buses, bus shelters and street advertising.

Last year, the Advertising Standards Authority received 378 complaints about a weight-loss advertisement that asked customers if they were “beach body ready?” – and while the ads (at least those that weren’t already defaced!) were ultimately pulled because of a ruling that the health claims were unauthorized by the EU, it clearly hit a nerve.

More than 70,000 people signed a petition calling for its removal!

In response, Mayor Khan has asked TfL to set up its own steering group and confirmed that all ads that “conform to unhealthy or unrealistic body images” on the city’s transport network will be banned.

“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. It is high time it came to an end,” said Mayor Khan.

While ads of this nature are not banned across the city, in magazines, etc, as Graeme Craig (TfL commercial development director) said, “Advertising on our network is unlike TV, online and print media. 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.”

While we’d argue that you don’t have a tremendous amount of control over the ads you see while flipping magazine pages or scrolling websites either, we’d be remiss not to celebrate a win where we can – and this is definitely a win!

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