Stories about ASA complaints that weren’t upheld are generally the marcomms equivalent of ‘there was no accident on the bridge today’. But in the case of an advertisement for Carefree Acti-Fresh Panty Liners, otherwise known as vagina discharge-gate, we’ll make an exception, because none of the 18 complaints received will get to have their day in court.
Here at StopPress we often start the week off with a frank discussion about vaginal discharge, so you can imagine our excitement when we saw an ad for Johnson & Johnson’s brand Carefree last night depicting a naked woman talking about the female body and the role of its new acti-fresh product. But, rather than beat about the bush, so to speak, and use the obligatory ‘patronising euphemisms’ often associated with the category, the ad features the word vagina, and it’s thought to be one of the first times it has been used in a New Zealand TV ad.
In the world of ‘feminine hygiene products’, sometimes known as ‘tampons’, there are certain advertising rules that have, over time, become engrained: weird blue liquid, euphemisms galore, unrealistic happiness, slow motion beach shots, dancing, basically all the things the above video parodies. But ad agency JWT and US tampon company Kotex decided to flout some those rules for a new campaign in an effort to ‘get real’ about ‘that time of the month’. But everyone knows TV isn’t about reality (unless it’s ‘gritty’) and it seems there’s no room for the horrible, disgusting v word on US TV screens.