Tampons are difficult to advertise without offending some people. The Advertising Standards Authority's 2012 annual report shows two feminine hygiene products in its top ten most complained about ads list for last year.
Libra's TVC making light of some physiological differences between women and drag queens topped the list with 53 complaints. The TVC shows a woman and a man in drag/ drag queen mirroring each other in the ladies room (applying makeup, etc). The two are evenly matched until the woman pulls a tampon out of her purse, at which point the drag queen storms off.
The ASA says many of the complainants expressed outrage that the ad condones transphobia and ridicules transgendered people.For its part, Libra said the ad was a bit of tongue-in-cheek but it never meant to offend. Shortly after the ads aired the brand pulled its TV spots from the air, YouTube and Facebook. The ASA considered this complaint settled as Libra took actions to remedy it.
Fifth place on the ASA's list went to another tampon ad, this time it was Carefree's ad which uses the word 'vagina'. Eighteen complaints were recieved but the ASA's Complaints Board found there was nothing offensive about using the anatomically correct name for a body part, especially considering it's central to the product being sold.
Kiwbank's adventurous 10-year-olds celebrating Kiwibank's adventurous first 10 years was the second most complained about ad in 2012, with 52 complaints mostly concerned about a scene showing children jumping into rocky waters. The complaints were partially upheld for that scene, as it was judged it might encourage children into dangerous behaviour.
In all there were 1076 formal complaints last year, of which 693 were for advertisements. A total of 264 complaints were deemed substantive and dealt with by the Complaints Board, 60 were upheld and 96 were settled.
Television held the top honour for being the most complained about advertising medium, while consumer products had the most nay-sayers.
The top 10 complained about ads of 2012 can be found here.