Summary of Council Decision:
Four issues were investigated, all of which were Not upheld.
Two poster ads, viewed in March 2012, advertising condoms:
a. One poster was headlined "Love sex. Hate condoms. Love SKYN". Further text stated "This changes everything. SKYN condoms are made from a revolutionary new material Polyisoprene, to revolutionise your sex life".
b. Another poster was headlined "Roll on better sex". Further text stated "This changes everything. SKYN condoms are made from a revolutionary new material Polyisoprene, to revolutionise your sex life".
Twenty-four complaints challenged whether ad (a) was:
1. offensive; and
2. inappropriately placed where it could be seen by children.
Two complainants challenged whether ad (b) was:
3. offensive; and
4. inappropriately placed where it could be seen by children.
1., 2., 3., & 4. A response was received from a firm of solicitors who were representing Ansell (U.K.) Ltd (Ansell) and who responded on their behalf. They stated that Ansell was aware of, and was sensitive to, the issues which advertising sexual wellness raised and intended to act responsibly and with due consideration to consumers, potential customers and third parties. They stated that Ansell did not seek to align itself with overly controversial advertising practices to sell its products and wanted to communicate its new product to its intended audience, which was men and women between the ages of 22 and 34 years. Ansell stated that there was a higher possibility of public complaints being received because of the product being advertised and stated that there would always be people who would be offended by any mention of condoms and contraception. They believed, however, that this was significantly outweighed by the benefit to society in reducing teenage and unwanted pregnancy and in reducing sexually transmitted diseases. They believed it was important that such products were allowed to be mass-marketed to reach the maximum number of possible consumers and also that the product would encourage the use of condoms.
They additionally stated that there would inevitably be people, including parents of young children or those with certain religious beliefs, who would not want to see any advertising for sexual wellness products. They believed, however, that it was important that people had the opportunity to be informed about sexual wellness products. They also stated that they did not believe the ads were overtly sexual, degrading to women or likely to encourage promiscuity.
They stated that neither ad was placed within the 100 m of a school and that the ads were not placed near churches.
1., & 3. Not upheld
The ASA noted both ads included the prominent use of the word "sex" alongside an image of the head and shoulders of a woman who appeared to be wearing only underwear. We acknowledged that the use of the word "sex", the reference to condoms and the images of the women referred to sexual activity, but considered that the images were not sexually explicit and the overall tone of the ads was not provocative. We acknowledged that some consumers would find the posters distasteful because of the overt references to sex and sexual activity. However, we considered that, in the context of ads for condoms, the images and text in the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On this point we investigated ads (a) and (b) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence) but did not find them in breach.
2., & 4. Not upheld
We noted both ads included the prominent use of the word "sex" alongside an image of the head and shoulders of a woman who appeared to be wearing only underwear. We also noted the use of the word "sex", the reference to condoms and the images of the women referred to sexual activity. We considered that it was acceptable to use a reference to sex to promote condoms on a poster provided that it was not done in a way that was sexually provocative, but nevertheless considered that the direct reference to sexual activity meant that the posters were unsuitable to be placed in those locations where they were most likely to be seen by children. We noted Ansell had imposed a placement restriction on the ads meaning that they would not be positioned within 100 m of any school. We therefore considered that the ads were responsibly placed.
On this point we investigated ads (a) and (b) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility) but did not find them in breach.
No further action required.