MANILA—The Belo Medical Group apologized early Wednesday for what it acknowledged was an “insensitive and upsetting” ad, which depicted a woman’s physical transformation while stuck at home due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Released on Tuesday morning, the ad dubbed “Pandemic Effect” shows a conventionally attractive woman whose appearance changes, in an apparent time lapse, while seated on a couch and watching pandemic-related news.
Within seconds, she grows facial and body hair, is covered with blemishes, and gains significant weight.
“Ano’ng nangyari?” she is asked while on a video call at the end of the ad.
“Tough times call for beautiful measures,” goes the tagline of the campaign.
Gigil, the ad agency behind the campaign, said in an official release that the video touches on “negative energy that manifests itself in our appearance, without us even realizing it.”
“This pandemic has been exhausting. Luckily, Belo reminds us that it’s here to take care of us,” the group said.
The backlash to the ad was swift on social media, with many criticizing the campaign for “shaming” those who have been struggling through the lockdown into booking a session with Belo.
Past midnight on Wednesday, the Belo Medical Group addressed the criticism, issued an apology, and took down the ad from its official channels.
Here’s Belo’s statement, in full:
“We apologize about our recent Pandemic Effect film. Thank you for being gracious in letting us know your thoughts about it.
“We hear you. You helped us see what we failed to see, which is that the film is insensitive and upsetting. Because of this, we have taken the ad down.
“We commit ourselves to learning from this and to bring our learnings into the future.”