Asahi drops physique shaming advertisements. Will different gross sales shops observe?
Bodyshaming is not an issue that only affects people in one country. For example, Japanese women (and, more recently, men) are bombarded with advertisements on trains pushing for “perfection”.
Body hair? Bad. Stained teeth? Bad. Excess fat, flat chest, no muscles? Bad bad bad. It seems that there is always something wrong with our body. Companies were quick to exploit such uncertainties in their advertising, despite a 2019 report by Business Insider citing a study that found that more than 40% of young women were upset and offended by such ads.
With more people staying home due to the pandemic, women have fewer opportunities to watch the train ads and instead find the same messages in ads attached to videos they watch on YouTube. They almost always come in manga form: a quick voice-over, for example, admonishes women to remove all body hair unless it grows from their parting. A subtle threat follows: if you do nothing, your love life will dry up and you will be alone forever.
“I saw this hair removal commercial in which a man in a manga says, ‘Oh no, my girlfriend is so hairy, I’m completely turned off and now I want to drop her,'” says Twitter user @ tkpon_s2. “My answer is like, ‘Huh? Listen, dude, women are totally averse to men who can’t love every strand of hair on their girlfriends ‘bodies.’ “
PopIn, an IT company that advertises online news outlets, says Asahi Shimbun’s website will stop accepting advertisements that use body shaming as a premise by the end of May.
“In the midst of the fear-inducing pandemic, consumers are looking for information they can trust,” said PopIn President Akiko Nishidate. “News websites need to instill trust, and that includes their advertising.”
The decision was surprisingly controversial and as a result PopIn’s sales fell by 50%. However, Nishidate says sales had rebounded to 80% of the company’s previous sales by August.
The same pandemic that saw fewer people on the trains led to large corporations removing their ads from YouTube to cut costs, according to website J-Cast News in an article last June. It quoted athlete-turned-entrepreneur Keisuke Honda, who said the prices of commercials on YouTube had fallen 40%, opening the field for shady ads selling dubious products that supposedly work wonders for flawed bodies.
Attempts have been made to end this type of advertising, but have not been immediately successful. Akita University student Aoi Murata collected 30,000 signatures on a Change.org petition and told J-Cast News that “Somebody has to do something, otherwise it will never change,” and video marketing site VideoBrain admonished companies To develop manga stories that don’t make viewers feel bad about their bodies. Recently, Takuya, who writes for empowerment site AM, developed a step-by-step guide on how to create a socially acceptable, feel-good advertisement for body hair removal.
However, Twitter user @chicken_number suggests simply getting rid of these ads using YouTube’s own systems. Simply press the information sign (an “i” with a circle) and then click the “Don’t see this ad again” option. It will be your first step towards being a better you.
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