Deep South Media intern Lewis Waugh takes a look behind the headlines as he considers the case of one of the shining lights of the ‘new year new you’ blitz of fitness and health campaigns.
How many of us, now it’s February, have given up on those New Year resolutions to get fit?
Are you now regretting that hasty decision to take out expensive gym membership?
And have you come to the conclusion that your body will never match the standard portrayed on billboards across the country?
If you ticked all three of the above you were probably influenced by that annual super effective but short term PR campaign about improving body image, losing weight and getting healthier.
The campaign can be ultimately regarded as a failure (after the initial profitable spike) because, while most of us want to jettison the burden of seasonal excesses and get back to a ‘healthy’ eating regime, we let it slip quickly.
Those unrealistic advertising images of fitness junkies with chiselled abs and faultless tans seem to do more harm than good, judging by the contempt hurled at them by way of social media, defaced posters and complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.
I have a certain sympathy with the firms accused of ‘body shaming’. While they are all obviously out to make hard cash, they simply seek to present themselves and their products in the best possible way.
The oiled, muscled and flawless body shapes portrayed should, they say, be seen as aspirational and motivational images.
I mean, who would be tempted to change their dietary habits by some scruffy, long-haired Herbert from the London suburbs blogging about food and fitness.
Ah, I see.
Step forward social media sensation Joe Wicks, pictured, who has risen from blog to brand with seemingly almost indecent haste.
The Instagram darling – 712,000 followers and counting – has approached health promotion from a completely different direction.
Instead of showcasing his preposterously in-shape physique, the ‘Body Coach’ made short, sharp amusing video clips for healthy meals that can be made in 15 minutes, creating the catchphrase Lean in 15.
Now a best-selling author and darling of the red tops, Wicks’ USP is that that he is just an ordinary bloke from London with long curly hair and a happy smiley face making healthy food.
He has been superbly advised, building his reputation on his funny, easy-to-watch videos and giving people the impression they already know this outgoing, buoyant personality who is helping them with their diet.
That’s where some of these other ‘body transformation’ outfits go wrong – they haven’t carefully built up a rapport with their audience, preferring to be right in your face with their blunt messages and images designed to make you feel utterly inadequate.
Wicks, online nutrition coach and creator of the 90-Day SSS Plan, even gets away with regularly uploading pictures of his own lithe, topless torso because he has become loved, a veritable national treasure in waiting – an acceptable, friendly face and more Poldark than Mr Universe.
In media relations terms Wicks is a winner, and it just goes to show that solidly building your brand from the tiniest acorn – with solid support and advice from experts in their field – is a must.
Oh, and it helps to tell people that fuelling their bodies with lots of food is perfectly acceptable.