Watchdog mauls billboard sex ads
Nasal spray punt 'unsuitable for public display', ASA rules
The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that billboard ads punting an Advanced Medical Institute (AMI) nasal spray and featuring the words "Want longer lasting sex?" are "unsuitable for public display".
The ASA earlier this month ordered the adverts to be removed from 200 sites following numerous complaints, citing the advertising code's insistence that "prescription-only medicines were not allowed to be advertised to the public".
AMI initially refused, slamming the ASA for its "unprecedented and simply bizarre call to suspend this campaign before it has even investigated the veracity of these complaints". It did, however, subsequently pull the posters.
The ASA has now duly investigated the claims by 521 complainants that the poster was "offensive and, therefore, unsuitable for display in public locations".
AMI's lengthy defence explained that the campaign "sought to address serious men's health issues while removing the stigma and taboo associated with seeking help for them". It suggested that "reality TV programmes, 'lads mags', online content, the commonality of graphic simulated sex on prime-time TV and film and factual shows" demonstrated we were "living in a more liberal and tolerant age".
The institute further defended that "the number of complaints was relatively small in the context of the number of people who could have seen the poster". The ASA adjudication notes: "They believed any unintentional offence that had been caused was not serious or widespread: the poster included no swearing, innuendo, inappropriate or suggestive imagery or nudity."
Regarding the promotion of prescription-only medicine, AMI insisted the phrase "Want longer lasting sex?" did not relate to a medicine "but the treatment programmes provided". It concluded that there was "an important and vital difference between medical service advertising and advertising medicines".
Not so, said the ASA, and ruled the advert had breached CAP Code clause 50.11 (Medicines). It declared: "We noted that the medicine was available by prescription only and that AMI did not hold a marketing authorisation for any medicines prescribed as part of their treatment programmes.
"We therefore concluded that the poster had indirectly advertised an unlicensed medicine, which was available only on prescription, to the public."
On the matter of public sensibilities, the ASA said: "We recognised that the sensitive nature of the message AMI wanted to deliver about their product and the treatment programmes they offered could be intrusive to some readers under any circumstances. We also noted the poster contained nothing explicit, and considered that the word 'sex' was not necessarily problematic in itself.
"We considered, however, that the style and tone of this ad, with direct reference to sexual intercourse through the phrase 'Want longer lasting sex?', was presented in too stark and prominent a manner, and as a result were concerned that it had caused both serious and widespread offence."
Accordingly, the ASA ruled the poster in breach of CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 5.1 (Decency), and ordered it "must not appear again in its current form".
That, however, may not be an end to the matter. According to the BBC, AMI will appeal against the ruling. Its European chief medical officer, Dr Michael Spira, said: "It is clear we were not out to offend anyone - and we know from representative surveys that the majority of Britons are not offended by our ads. Our ads have been very successful in reaching men with these issues, many of whom are suffering in silence, too embarrassed to seek help at their GP, to let them know that AMI can help them.
"We will appeal the decision as we believe all the evidence, including independent research, says the ASA has got this wrong." ®
That would be Celebrex. And most of that ad is "all NSAIDs, including ibuprofen"(as if Aleeve and Motrin are dangerous) and "in some cases, the benefits outweigh the risks"; very little of it is side effects they want you to directly attribute to Celebrex. But no drug ads - I like the thought.
I've read and re-read this story and am still baffled.
Why the hell would anyone want a stiff nose? Better a limp dick than a tumescent proboscis.
Anyway, well done, ASA: start allowing the scamming drugs companies to shove billboards anywhere -- and those companies certainly have more than enough money to burn -- and the entire country will be littered with prescription med ads and herbal ads and slimming ads.
We've banned smoking as a pollutant, about time we banned billboards, too. Damn Yanks.
ahh the spam
"all this for something I don't hear many men moaning about "
Well, of course not, NO ONE is going to admit they suffer from limp dick.
*shrug*. Seems kind of prudish, but here in the US no company would have even ATTEMPTED this ad.
You don't have ads for prescription meds there? We've got em all over. Actually it's odd, these ads, they're required to have some full list of complications, etc. available in a magazine. So the TV ad will make the med totally sound like the shit, list main possible side effects, they'll say like "See our ad in Mens Golfing Monthly" or whatever (it can be ANY magazine so it's a real odd one sometimes). THAT one is like a full page of fine print with, well I don't know I've never bothered to read one.
There's one REALLY odd medicine TV ad now.. it's like 2 and a half minutes long (most are 30 seconds)... it boils down to "No, our product has not been pulled off the market.. some studies have shown it causes fatal side effects but hey, one or two studies said it doesn't! You really should try it anyway!" It's super classy.