Gym billboard sparks bullying debate with claim aliens will 'take the fat ones first'

Gym billboard sparks bullying debate with claim aliens will 'take the fat ones first'

This is the billboard which has drawn criticism

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A billboard advertising gym memberships has drawn controversy for depicting aliens abducting a fat person. 

The advert for the Fit4Less gym in Derbyshire has the slogan: 'They're coming...and when they arrive, they'll take the fat ones first'. 

And that has sparked outrage in many quarters.

To debate the issue, Julia Hartley-Brewer invited opinion from both sides of the argument, and she was joined on Tuesday’s show by Jan Spaticchia, Chief Executive of Fit4Less's parent company, énergie Group, and the founder of Combat Bullying, Natalie Harvey.

Spaticchia defended the poster, saying it was not meant to cause any offence. 

"We care about the relationships we build with our communities," he added. "We believe if we're going to reach out to more people as a sector and get more people more active more often, then we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and realise: If we want to attract normal people, then we need to be willing to put it on ourselves as an industry. Our irreverent messaging does exactly that."

Harvey didn't agree to the billboard, based primarily on its location. 

She said: "My issue was the fact that, while I get the humour, it was a huge poster in full view near a school, on the side of a supermarket. I just didn't think it was very friendly to the community in a week where I'd had three cases, now risen to five, of children being bullied for weight issues. If it was in a highly adult populated area, or a gym, I'd have absolutely no problem with it."

Harvey argued the perception of the billboard might affect how children are treated. 

"If any children were to see this poster... I just think it's unhelpful. I think empathy is key here."