Woolworths has bowed to public criticism and pulled an advertising campaign featuring celebrity fitness guru Michelle Bridges suggesting people who grow their own fruit and vegetables are acting like “freaks”.
Bridges had partnered up with the supermarket giant to spruik a new range of frozen meals. In one advert she is shown wearing overalls and a flannelette top in a vegetable patch eating topsoil.
The frame then cuts to Bridges in a kitchen where she says: “Let’s get real, eating healthier does not mean you have to act like a freak.”
The comments attracted severe backlash, with customers threatening never to shop at ‘Woolies’ stores again.
Woolworths removed one of the advertisements from YouTube and Facebook, and issued an apology on its Facebook page.
“We’ve listened to your feedback about the latest Michelle Bridges video and have removed it. Our intention was never to upset anyone,” the apology said.
“As the fresh food people we know how passionate our customers are about fresh food. We share their passion and want everyone to eat healthily whether they grow their own or choose healthy foods from our supermarkets.”
But customers were furious, and took to social media to air their concerns, with some using the hangtags #freak and #realfood.
“So if you grow your own veggies your a freak, but people will happily lap up a meal just because they are told that its nutritious by a sell out celebrity,”one Facebook user named Paul said.
“I wonder how many preservatives are used and where the veggies and protein are sourced from. No thank you, I’ll stick to actual cooking where I know where my food has come from,”
Another user wrote: “My beetroot muching daughter in her organically grown vegetable garden. #realfood #freak Getting her gardening freak on! Disappointed Woolworths and Michelle Bridges!! Oh and we will never be shopping in your store EVER again!”
A second video advertisement showed Bridges poking fun at the perception of her “perfect life”.
It showed her waking up in bed in the ‘plank’ strengthening position and doing lunges down the street while holding two dogs under her arm.
The message of the advertisement was that life wasn’t always easy and people didn’t have time to prepare fresh meals everyday.
Bridges, who, ironically, gained her fame from appearing as a trainer in reality TV show The Biggest Loser and now heads a fitness empire, responded to the backlash via Instagram on Friday night.
“Hi everyone, our intention with our ads for Delicious Nutritious were to poke fun at myself and what many see as “my (completely fictional) perfect life”. There was never any intention to offend and for this we sincerely apologise,” the apology said.
“As a fresh food grower myself and advocate for home cooking I have listened to your feedback and removed the posts which caused upset.
“As someone who works with many Australians, I understand that it’s not always easy to cook from scratch every single meal. This is how my concept of Delicious Nutritious was born, so the wheels don’t fall off your healthy eating plan.”
— Luschia Porter (@LuschiaPorter) November 6, 2015
— Frothy 泡 (@Frothy_boy) November 6, 2015
The Michelle Bridges’ Big Bag Of Dirt Challenge. Eat as much dirt as you like whenever you like. Guaranteed weight loss. — The Hobart Push (@jonkudelka) November 6, 2015