A 39-year-old British woman has found herself in the center of a controversy over something seemingly as simple as a billboard advertising a gym. Natalie Harvey came cross the billboard near a co-op in Sawley, Derbyshire, last week, which advertises a “Fit4Less” gym by claiming that when aliens invade, they’ll “take the fat ones first.” Being that Harvey is the founder of an anti-bullying charity, Combat Bullying, she found the billboard to be in poor taste and fired off a string of angry tweets that was quickly picked up across the internet.
Now, whether the billboard is offensive on the grounds of bullying is up for debate. Personally what I find most insulting is that the inherent wrongness of it. Obviously, obviously if aliens invade they’re not going to come here to eat us — Twilight Zone episode be damned. No, they’re going to come for our best and brightest, our world leaders and scientists, which is why I feel very comfortable as a blogger of dumb things that I shall remain safe, a couple of extra pounds or no.
But I’m getting off track. At any rate, even after public outcry (read: free publicity) the gym refused to take the billboard down. Jan Spaticchia, the chief executive of the gym’s parent company Energie Group, defended the billboard claiming that the campaign had been quite successful.
‘We aim to get people talking and promote the notion of a healthy lifestyle. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. I’m a 45-year-old man who is 17.5 stone and proud of it but I’m healthy with it.’
‘We also believe however that 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 and our messaging is designed to do exactly that.’
A spokesperson for the Advertising Standards Authority commented that the agency is looking into the billboard, but would not say whether it violates any rules.
In the meantime, Harvey has also appealed to Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, who recently went public with his own struggles at having been bullied. The actor has yet to respond.