Creative in association withGear Seven

Plus Size Cyclewear Brand Fat Lad At The Back Draws Attention to Body Bias in Cycling Industry

Advertising Agency
London, UK
Mellor&Smith's controversial OOH campaign draws attention to the continued body bias present in the cycling and fitness industry

Ad agency Mellor&Smith has launched a controversial advertising campaign for Fat Lad At The Back to draw attention to the body bias present in the cycling and fitness industry.

The integrated campaign goes live today; OOH from London Lites, Fly-posting and social media.  

Fat Lad At The Back is widely-known for its revolutionary plus-size cycling gear and brand mission to challenge stereotypes in the cycling industry, and create an inclusive cycling community. The brand has been instrumental in getting people of all sizes into cycling, and now turn their attention to the way fat people on bikes are treated by society.

Their new campaign challenges the notion that if you are fat, then you can’t ride a bike, can’t be fit and can’t take part in sports. It celebrates what people can do. 

Lynn Bye, Co-founder and Boss Lady at Fat Lad At The Back, says, “Whatever preconceptions society has about fat people, our community is proof that body size doesn’t stop us, and that fat can.”

Paul Mellor, MD at Mellor&Smith, says, “Fat Lad stand for something, and they stand with their community. It’s not wishy-washy, it’s not worthy… it’s straight forward and it’s empowering. This campaign highlights a massive issue within the community and gets people talking.”

Lynn Bye again, “We are incredibly proud of the brand and the work Mellor&Smith have done. They ‘get’ the brand and what we stand for.”

Apparently, it’s fair game

The campaign was inspired by the abuse people in the Fat Lad community commonly receive when out cycling. Discrimination is discrimination, yet fat people appear fair game by society. Apparently using fat as an insult is OK. Not on Fat Lad’s watch.

Paul Mellor, again, “It’s a red-hot insight; fat people are called ‘Fat Cunt’ by the public when they’re on the bike. They’re told they can’t do this, and they can’t do that. But actually they can, and they do.”  

Trolls, trolls, trolls

In February this year, the models in Fat Lad At The Back’s social media ads were subject to horrible trolling and although many of the comments were removed by Facebook this type of abuse is all too common on the brands social channels with regular quips about wide loads, hippo emoji’s and the models looking disgusting or unsightly in tight cycle wear. 

Fat Lad customer and model, Lisa Townsend has had a lot of abuse, both offline and online. Lisa later wrote on her own social media and in a blog post for the brand: “Whilst this was an upsetting time for me, the situation allowed me to be connected with a huge community of amazing women who stood by my side in solidarity and support to say a big ‘Hell NO!’ to the trolls. It was really emotional to hear how every one of us had a similar experience and that this was just expected when you are a curvier lady on a bike.” 

Loud and proud

After the incident in February, Fat Lad At The Back vowed to make a difference and take a stand against this kind of bigotry.

The brand is determined to re-take the word ‘fat’ and for the brand to be instrumental in dismantling the derogatory associations with the word. Lynn Bye again, "To us, fat has never been a negative word - it’s just another adjective. People are fat and society needs to stop making that into the only thing they see. Your body doesn’t define you. We want people to start talking about this so that we can educate society and teach them to respect and accept people of all sizes." 

Paul Mellor, from Mellor&Smith, “There is so much noise out in the world. This is a campaign that gets noticed and will get tongues wagging. Lovely jubbly.”

Abuse and judgement from others is a huge barrier for fat people getting into any fitness activity and robs them of the opportunity to improve their state of mind. Will Fat Lad At The Back’s advertising campaign have the impact they want to start a shift in the attitudes towards plus-size cyclists? Watch this space.

Agency / Creative
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