Vagina gets thumbs up and supermarket cleared of promoting casual sex

Open discussion about feminine hygiene products means it is now acceptable for the word “vagina” to be used in TV commercials.

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled not to proceed with any of the 18 complaints about an advert for Carefree Acti-Fresh Panty Liners.

It reportedly featured New Zealand’s first use of the word “vagina” in a television commercial, creating an initial flurry of publicity when it was released in July.

This also led to complaints, particularly about the words “vagina” and “discharge.”

“I am disgusted that this advert is on tv,” complainant K Spice wrote. “I have a nine year old who is up until 8pm to 8.30pm and he definitely does not need to hear words like that.”

Another complainant said the pairing of a naked woman and the word vagina was overly sexual.

But ASA complaints board chairman Jenny Robson said the use of “anatomically correct” words for parts of the body was acceptable, taking into account the product being advertised. The same applied for “discharge”.

While the woman appeared naked, she was shown from a distance, no genitalia were visible and her appearance was “neither salacious nor titillating”, says the ruling issued today.

The ruling also noted feminine hygiene products are now being openly discussed, and while some may find this offensive, it did not mean advertising codes were being breached.

There were therefore no grounds for the complaint to proceed.

Two other 'sexy' commercials

The ASA also declined to proceed with complaints against two other "sexy" commercials.

Supermarket chain New World was cleared of promoting casual sex in a television commercial, which shows a young couple waking up after a night out, enjoying a picnic and falling in love.

“The ad starts with two young people and waking up in bed after a one-night stand?? This is family viewing time. I am raising teenagers and try to instil self-respect and caution around promiscuity!!” said complainant S Taylor.

“This ad says ‘hey, sleep around, wake up, buy food from New World and your life will be sweet’.

“New World needs to check out New Zealand’s STI rates and teen pregnancy rates!! And stick to selling food.

"I don’t want my kids watching commercials that so obviously condone casual sex – not at 6.30pm.”

The ASA complaints board received three complaints for the advert but Ms Robson said while the it showed a couple at the likely beginning of a relationship, it did not promote casual sex, promiscuity or one-night stands.

Though offensive to the complainant, it was also unlikely to cause widespread or serious offence in the light of prevailing community standards. The ad was also prepared with a sense of social responsibility and did not breach advertising codes.

Sealy New Zealand also gained watchdog backing for a commercial asking, “what do we do in bed?”

It showed a camera zooming in on apartment buildings with scenes including a man playing a guitar, a woman putting coats on the bed at a party and a couple kissing.

Complainant D Davey said it was shown at times when children were watching TV.

“It shows two naked people making out in the Sealy Bed – not explicit, but not suitable at this time of the day.”

Ms Robson admitted the commercial was suggestive, but was “fleeting and not explicit”, did not cause widespread offence and consequently did not breach advertising codes.

ASA chief executive Hilary Souter told NBR ONLINE that commercials mentioning “bodily functions tend to promote a reaction”.

“A lot of that has to do with the timing, along with the actual nature of the product in the ad,” she says.

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15 Comments & Questions

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correct maybe but necessary?

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Man the NBR journalists are getting the most awesome stories to cover tonight. Discharge FTW!

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just loving the first 4 words in the article title

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NBR would be aware of the double-entendre. Tasteless.

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this collapse in the NZX profits is the news but not reported here.. moreover, how the 'police/exeuctors' of our sharemarket are themselves a profit enitiy to trade [on their exchange] & their performance impact on The Exchange is bewildering..

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it was reported earlier in the day. NBR being the fast moving upto date news org that it is has moved on to other stories

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Great to have some fun with some ads.
You certainly know how to make hay out of I guess what are dull media releases.
I see the word 'vagina' is used in the promos for a new TVNZ show called One Born Every Minute.

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Am i the only one who wouldnt raise the subject of vaginal discharge to anybody at any time? How uncomfortable i feel watching tv with my father and brother, grandfather or uncle when this ad and others like it come on. If it is ok then where are the mens testicula creams and postrate examination kit ads. :/
oh and i am really not happy that the broadcast standards have dismissed these complaints so easily. I thought they viewed every complaint as 1000 opinions for all those who hate it but didnt write in.
I didnt complain but wanted to over this and other PERSONAL subjects that made me feel very embarassed.
I guess if we dislike it our only option is to not support the company and not watch tv with the family. Thanks for the hassel carefree and bsa.

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May I suggest a move to Saudi Arabia then. No 'offensive' advertisements of a personal nature there.

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That tampon ad is gross and the words really unescessary - vulgar, period (no pun intended)

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I've been with my girlfriend for over five years...and we made sexy times the first night we met. Nothing wrong with that.

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I agree. All these judgements are absolutely appalling. "Ms" Robson should be sacked.

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To those that disagree with the decision or are offended by the adverts, there is a off switch on the remote or failing that change to another channel.

I am delighted to see that a miniscule number of complaints has had no affect on the majority of the population who by reason that they haven't lodged a complaint against the adverts, on could assume do not find such adverts offensive.

Maybe at long last as a country we are starting to reach maturity and commonsense is now emerging.

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The ASA is out of touch with standards of decency and good taste.

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I agree

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