What Weight Loss Advertisers Should Do Now That Pinterest Has Banned Weight Loss Ads

Pinterest recently announced that it is banning weight loss ads. “Pinterest is the place people come for inspiration to create [a] life they love. It’s where everyone belongs — regardless of body shape or size. We're empowering Pinners to plan for a summer and beyond without weight loss ads, so they can focus on what matters most. Beginning July 1st, 2021, we’re updating our ad policies to prohibit all ads with weight loss language and imagery,” explained Pinterest. 

What Is The New Pinterest Policy On Weight Loss Advertisements?

The National Eating Disorders Association consulted with Pinterest on the new advertising policy, which expands on the platform’s existing ad content guidelines related to weight loss products, procedures and imagery. 

The new Pinterest policy prohibits:

  • Any weight loss language or imagery; 
  • Any testimonials regarding weight loss or weight loss products; 
  • Any language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types; 
  • Referencing Body Mass Index (BMI) or similar indexes; and 
  • Any products that claim weight loss through something worn or applied to the skin. 

“The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) applauds Pinterest for taking a leadership position as the first platform to prohibit all ads with weight-loss language and imagery. NEDA is encouraged by this necessary step in prioritizing the mental health and well-being of Pinners, especially those impacted by diet culture, body shaming, and eating disorders. We are hopeful this global policy will encourage other organizations and companies to reflect on potentially harmful ad messages and to establish their own working policies that will create meaningful change," said Elizabeth Thompson, Interim CEO for the National Eating Disorders Association. 

Is Pinterest Permitting Any Weight Loss Ads On Its Platform?

No. However, as long as the ads are not focused on weight loss, Pinterest is still allowing ads that promote “healthy lifestyles and habits or fitness services and products.”

Is Pinterest The First Social Media Platform To Ban Weight Loss Ads?

Yes, Pinterest is the first platform to fully ban weight loss ads. However, Savannah Sicurella for NPR reports that Instagram and Facebook “clamped down on ads for ‘miracle’ diets and weight-loss products in 2019.”

Why Did Pinterest Ban Weight Loss Ads?

As Pinterest explained, the social media platform wants to be a “place where everyone belongs — regardless of body shape or size,” and this isn’t the first time Pinterest has taken steps to create a positive and inclusive atmosphere on its platform. For example, in 2019 Pinterest rolled out compassionate search. When Pinners search words like anxiety or stress, a pop-up box appears offering access to coping mechanisms, such as guided meditation. For search terms related to suicide or self harm, the platform suggests resources like the The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Pinterest has also prohibited content related to misinformation about vaccines, and it banned political ads. 

Pinterest’s forward approach to staying positive, and staying away from controversy, is a big part of how the platform markets itself to advertisers and users. The launch of Pinterest Premiere, the platform’s ad targeting tool introduced in March, promoted Pinterest’s “positive environment” as part of the ad tool roll out. Advertisers are increasingly concerned about brand safety, and an environment designed to feel positive can be comforting.

How Should Advertisers React To Pinterest Banning Weight Loss Ads?

Digital platforms change policies often, and advertisers need to be ready. Diversification of advertising campaigns is always a smart idea, because diversification helps advertisers proactively identify and evaluate a variety of channels and platforms that can be effective at meeting advertiser objectives. Digital performance advertising through a partner like Digital Media Solutions® (DMS) can be a perfect way to diversify media channels and to de-risk media spend by paying when consumer actions are achieved instead of for media impressions.

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