A billboard for a gym in England has upset passersby with its scientifically unprovable claim that when aliens invade our planet, "they'll take the fat ones first."
Even in this comic context, fat-shaming people into joining a gym is a crappy tactic to use—one that is disappointing but not surprising. And of course, the gym, Fit4Less, has refused to take the billboard down.
What's curious, though, is that this isn't the first gym to post a fat-shaming alien billboard!
Indeed, in 1999, a gym in San Francisco used the same tactic in a billboard from Grey. At the time, the health club, 24 Hour Fitness, also refused to take down the ad, saying it wasn't meant to be offensive and that "we all know how hard it is to lose weight. Sometimes humor helps make things easier, and can even be motivational."
Adweek covered that ruckus, and spoke at the time to Alan Randolph, creative director at Grey, who said: "We certainly didn't mean to offend anyone. I mean, I'm no physical specimen either."
Here's the earlier billboard:
Fit4Less is making the same argument that 24 Hour Fitness did. "If we are going to reach more people as a sector, then we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and realize that if we want to attract normal people, then we need to be willing to poke fun at ourselves. Our messaging is designed to do exactly that." argues Jan Spaticchia, CEO of Fit4Less parent company Energie Group.
So, here we are, two decades later, with basically the same tactic and the same reaction.
But let's unpack this for a second: Sure, yeah, aliens probably exist, and maybe they'll come to Earth. I can suspend my disbelief. But you cannot tell me that you know aliens will want to eat humans and that the humans they will want to eat the most will be whatever these gyms define as fat.
Nope. I draw the line there.
Top photo courtesy @natharvey77 on Twitter.