The owner of a gym has defended a controversial billboard poster advertising his business after it was vandalised.
The advert, for The PT Factory in Denton in Tameside, bears the message: "Tired of being fat & ugly? Now just be ugly!"
Ollie Lawrence, who owns the gym, said it was intended as a "light-hearted joke" when it was erected on 5 December.
Although he has received a handful of complaints since it appeared on Stockport Road, he said most people had reacted positively.
But on Monday 12 December, Mr Lawrence discovered that someone had hurled several pots of yellow paint at the billboard.
Mr Lawrence said: "I couldn’t believe it. It was just a light-hearted joke. It wasn’t our intention to offend anybody."
The poster advertises gym memberships at the PT Factory, which Mr Lawrence founded 12 years ago.
He said he hoped the advert would attract attention and "put a smile on people’s faces".
Mr Lawrence said: "I would not have put it up otherwise. We spoke to a lot of people beforehand and 99% have seen it for what it is - a joke.
"We’ve had thousands of comments saying how brilliant it is. We have had about eight of nine complaints and unfortunately someone has done what they have done."
Despite the backlash, Mr Lawrence said he does not regret the wording on the poster.
Mr Lawrence said: "There’s nothing malicious in it. That’s not who we are as a business.
"We wanted to get a funny line out there to try and get our personality across.
"How do you do that on a billboard?
"We’re a really friendly gym. The eight people who have complained don’t actually know me as a person".
Mr Lawrence branded the actions of those responsible as “a step too far”.
Despite the damage, he said he intends to replace the billboard in the New Year.
Mr Lawrence said: "The billboard was quite expensive. That’s the main reason I was upset.
"It's a step too far.
"There are things I might disagree with but I don’t go vandalising them.
"I just ignore it and think ‘that business isn’t for me’."
Greater Manchester Police has confirmed it has been made aware of a report of vandalism on Stockport Road on Tuesday 13 December, and says enquiries are ongoing.
No arrests have been made at this time.
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