The advertising watchdog has dismissed concerns over a television advertisement for women’s sanitary products.
Several people wrote to the Advertising Standards Board recently to complain about Unicharm’s latest television commercial, describing the ad as “disgusting” and “offensive”.
The advertisement features a women confronted by her “period self”, who is distressed and irritable.
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However, after using Unicharm’s ‘be fresh’ pads, the woman in the commercial is able to escape from her alter ego.
Several viewers took issue with the advertisement.
“There is no need to describe a period in this detail,” one viewer wrote.
“My young kids see this ad and I shouldn’t have to explain what a jam donut means.”
Another said as a woman, she was embarrassed to watch the ad.
“The woman that has her period says she feels like she’s sitting on a jam donut,” she wrote.
“It is disgusting.”
In response to an investigation by the advertising watchdog, Unicharm said it intended the advertisement to be “light-hearted and humorous”.
“The advertisement was created using exaggeration and humour as a technique to talk to women who may experience a range of symptoms during their periods,” Unicharm said.
“These symptoms are widely published in medical and health journals.”
The advertising watchdog ruled while the words “jam donut” are potentially unpleasant, they are not inappropriate.
Because of this, the Advertising Standards Board found the commercial did not breach advertising rules and dismissed the complaints.
Independent brand analyst and founder of Brandology, Michel Hogan, told SmartCompany she is glad the board “came down on the side of sense” in this instance.
“The challenge for businesses is you’re never going to make everyone happy,” Hogan says.
“It’s absolutely impossible and, if you’re doing things right, there’s a good chance you’ll offend somebody. If you’re not offending somebody, chances are you’re so vanilla that no one is noticing you.”
Hogan says instead of worrying about potentially offending the odd person here and there, businesses should instead focus on what they care about and make those things visible in their advertising.
“The squeamishness of customers shouldn’t be the yardstick by which you measure what you should and shouldn’t do,” she says.
“Instead, the yardstick should be: is this genuinely representing what we care about and can we look at it and be proud? The company in question should feel well indicated and continue on their merry advertising way.”
SmartCompany contacted Unicharm for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.