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The ASAI upheld complaints that the ad contained general offense, but not that it was demeaning to women or had sexual innuendo. This has caused much debate and discussion in Ireland, with some people accusing the advertising body of creating an unwelcome throwback to old Ireland.
Some of those complaining told the ASAI they found the messaging in the Tampax ad, “provocative” or “suggestive” - because talking about how to insert a Tampax properly is suggestive now? The ASAI didn't agree, but banned the ad for causing widespread offense. The ad had 84 complaints, in the last four and a half years, there have only been seven ads that have had more than 60 complaints.
The Committee noted the Code required that advertising should not cause grave or widespread offence. The Committee noted that the advertisement, although light-hearted in nature, provided factual information in a manner that was neither explicit nor graphic. They did not consider that the advertisement had caused grave offence. They noted, however, the level of complaint that had been received and the concerns expressed by complainants about the advertising and considered that it had caused widespread offence. In the circumstances, they considered that the advertisement had breached Section 3.16 of the Code.
This didn't sit well with the general audience who now wonder what the fuss was about. The ad wasn't shown during hours where children might be watching, who was offended? And who thought it was sexual? Was it because of the cheeky "not just the tip" phrasing?
Now the ad is riding the controversy wave in mainstream media, with columns in The Irish Times suggesting this is all a throwback to old Catholic Ireland.
"Ads showing women rollerblading in white leotards on the first day of their periods are far more offensive than this one." writes Amy O'Connor
Even Doctor and TV presenter Ciara Kelly had a few choice words about the ad on Newstalk:
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) July 30, 2020
She is suggesting a protest, she wants you to send new unopened boxes of tampons to Newstalk (the show). Newstalk will then present them to the ASAI, and donate the boxes to a period poverty charity.
So just how awful is this ad? Judge for yourself. Personally I think it's a lighthearted ad, and useful as an instruction on how to use the product. This is a product demonstration spot that just got banned simply due to the body part suggested, not shown, or even named. Outrageous.