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cashing in

All the complaints over this controversial billboard may have backfired spectacularly

The advertiser looks like it’s laughing all the way to the bank.

IT HAS SPARKED a petition with over 50,000 signatures and a planned protest – but a controversial London billboard campaign appears to have delivered its backers the windfall they wanted.

Protein World, the little-known company behind the “are you beach body ready?” Tube ads, has reportedly raked in about £1 million (€1.4 million) on the back of the publicity its unpopular campaign generated.

The supplement supplier, which launched about 18 months ago, spent £250,000 (€350,000) on the three-week campaign, which was due to end today after generating over 200 complaints to the UK advertising watchdog.

The campaign also drew a major public backlash with posters defaced across the city amid criticism that the ads were sexist and promoted unrealistic body images.

It also spawned a string of spoof and rival ads, as well as a “taking back the beach” protest in London’s Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon.

However an unrepentant Protein World appears to laughing all the way to the bank from the wave of negative publicity.

UK Marketing Magazine reported the campaign had made a “little-known brand a household name” and generated £1 million (€1.4 million) in direct sales revenue, although the company hasn’t confirmed that figure.

Meanwhile, it has been busy retweeting praise and taking on critics – who it likely figured weren’t going to be buying its products anyway – with its chief executive labelling those who defaced its ads as “terrorists”.

READ: No more topless men at Abercrombie & Fitch >

READ: An Irish marketing agency has just been singled out as one of the world’s best >

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