Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld

Ad description

A TV ad and Video on Demand (VOD) ad for Wuka period underwear:

a. The TV ad, seen in April 2023, featured a voiceover which stated, “Wuka loves periods. For the sneezy flows, the trickly flows, gushing, rushing all kinds of flows.” It was accompanied by changing split-screen imagery that included shots of different period underwear, blood and blood clots in a shower. The voiceover continued, “Ditch those pads and tampons” and was accompanied by split-screen scenes that showed a female wearing a sanitary pad in her underwear alongside a used tampon being thrown into a waste bin.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ‘ex-kids’ scheduling restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at children.

b. The VOD ad on Sky, seen in April 2023, was the same as ad (a).


The ASA received 295 complaints:

The complainants, who considered the imagery used was offensive and likely to cause distress, challenged whether:

1. ad (a) breached the BCAP Code; and

2. ad (b) breached the CAP Code.


1. & 2. WUKA said that as a brand they were pro-active in their attempts to represent periods positively, encourage society to talk more openly and promote the benefits of switching to reusable period products. They referenced research from ActionAid UK that they said demonstrated that period stigma continued to exist around the world and that UK women continued to experience anxiety, negative comments and shaming about periods.

They said period clots were a common symptom of menstruation that usually occurred during heavy flow, and that they had followed medical guidance about the size and colour to ensure they were an accurate depiction of what was ‘normal’. They considered that depicting periods in that way would normalise attitudes and perceptions, as well as encourage people to take notice of changes to their flow for medical reasons.

They referenced unprompted positive feedback they had received and said that it highlighted the need for ‘real’ periods to be seen by men and women of all ages to enable society to become period positive. They therefore stood by their decision to include the imagery and did not consider a stronger scheduling restriction was required.

Clearcast said that when reviewing the ad script they considered mentions of blood were not gratuitous. The script, however, was approved with an ‘ex-kids’ restriction for the use of the word ‘ass’. They said they held detailed discussions to consider the blood imagery and because the imagery depicted ‘normal’ periods, they did not believe additional restrictions were necessary.

They said the ad showed an alternative to traditional period products and that the underwear product could manage all variations of menstrual flow. They said that to depict menstrual flow as blue, as it had been historically, would be inaccurate, and that there were non-exhaustive variations of types of menstrual flow. Therefore, they said that the depictions of blood that included blood clots and the absorption of red liquid, plus showing traditional period products, were relevant to the product itself.

They said that imagery of a used tampon thrown into a waste bin was an accurate depiction of how traditional sanitary products were disposed of, and the amount of blood shown was extremely light. They therefore considered the ad had been appropriately restricted.

Sky said the ad appeared during ‘A town Called Malice’ and that the programme was not made for children, nor did it specifically target them since it was an adult thriller series about a gangster family that contained themes of sex, drugs and violence. Therefore, they believed an ad for a sanitary product seemed unlikely to cause harm or offence to the programme’s intended audience. They also said to further ensure the programme was viewed by adults only, its access was protected by a daytime PIN that enabled Sky to schedule adult content without the need for a restriction to post 9 pm slots. The PIN would be required in all pre-9 pm and post-5.30 am slots, unless the customer had disabled the function. They said that was more restrictive than the ‘ex-kids’ restriction Clearcast had approved. Therefore, they considered the ad was scheduled correctly for the audience and for broadcast on their VOD service behind PIN protection.


1. & 2. Not upheld

The ad was for re-usable period underwear that was a type of product used for menstrual flow. The ad began with the phrase “Wuka loves periods” and therefore it was clear from beginning that the ad related to menstruation and that the ad was likely to feature imagery related to periods.

The ad contained a scene that showed a person’s feet in the shower along with blood and blot clots around the plug. The ASA considered that given the context of an ad for a period product the blood and blood clots would be recognised as menstrual flow. At the time the ad was seen, imagery depicting period blood and menstrual flow in that way was uncommon. We therefore acknowledged that it would be unfamiliar and likely to be unexpected in a TV ad. However, we understood that blood and blood clots were natural symptoms associated with a menstrual cycle, and specifically that blood clots with a diameter 2.5 cm or less could be a common occurrence during the days when menstrual flow was heaviest. The ad also referenced “all kinds of flows” and therefore we considered blood clots would be relevant to consumers when deciding whether a product would be sufficient to cope with their personal menstruation needs.

We recognised that blood featured in ads was often associated with injury, and that blood imagery in any context could be scary and unnerving. Therefore, we acknowledged that some viewers had been distressed when viewing the ad. However, we considered that whilst unconventional, in the context of a period product, the blood and blood clots were a realistic and accurate depiction of consumers’ menstruation experiences.

We understood that re-usable period products were an alternative to traditional, single-use sanitary products, and that part of the ad’s narrative was to show the waste associated with single-use products. The ad showed a used tampon, a single-use period product, being thrown into a waste bin. We acknowledged that the image of a tampon with blood would again have been unfamiliar in a TV ad; however, we also considered that the amount of blood shown was likely to be representative of an average menstrual flow and was not excessive, gratuitous or gory in nature.

We acknowledged that the imagery, including the blood clots and the used tampon, would have been unfamiliar to very young children and, again, blood could have connotations of injury. However, we understood that the average age menstruation began for most children was around the age of 12 years, but could be as young as 8. Therefore, we considered it was likely that many children would be familiar with, and understand that blood associated with menstruation was normal. In addition, a scheduling restriction had been applied to the ad at the time it was cleared by Clearcast, which meant that it should not be transmitted in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to children under 16 years of age.

For those reasons, whilst we acknowledged that some viewers may have found blood, blood clots and a used tampon distasteful, and that some distress had been caused, we did not consider that the imagery was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, or excessive fear or distress. We therefore concluded the ad did not breach the Codes.

We investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rule 4.2 and 4.10 (Harm and Offence) and ad (b) under CAP Code rule 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and Offence), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.


4.2     4.10    

CAP Code (Edition 12)

4.1     4.2    

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