Hey, guess what, someone’s gone and made an advert that’s managed to almost literally quite nearly incite a riot. I bet you can’t guess what product it’s for. Tenner bet. Nope? Well, let me enlighten you. It’s for tampons.
Well then. Did you find it funny? Did you chortle? Did you laugh? If so, does that make you a bit of a prick? In the eyes of some people, yes, and in the eyes of others, no, don’t be silly. If I’m being brutally honest, I thought it was a bit shit really, but that’s not what’s on the agenda in most consumer’s minds. What they’re trying to work out, is if it’s offensive or not. No, not because it’s for women’s sanitary products, and there are still men who haven’t had relationships and therefore not had to nip down to Sainsburys to buy a pack in an emergency, but because the butt of the joke, in this case, is a transgender.
The ad in question has aired in New Zealand for about a week, and it’s already making their national press for the wrong reasons, resulting in the classic “is it, isn’t it” argument that dominates almost everything in life. Libra, the company behind this ill fated attempt at humorous advertising, aren’t new to the idea of negative press. One of their previous adverts was this monstrosity;
Yep, he needs to buy his girlfriend ‘super tampons’ because his nob’s proper massive, and he’s “caved her right in. AM I RIGHT LADS? WWWEEEEYYYYYY. GET US TEN PINTS JIM”.
Anyone want to join in on a very, very slow clap here? As offensive as that may be, playing the classic idiotic male stereotype, again, I’m more offended by the absolute shocker of an idea. Did that really air? Was that actually approved for a female audience? Did they genuinely lap that shit up? I don’t think so, and that brings us back to the advert in question. Who actually thought playing the “Whoops, I can have a period. Plus one to me!” card, and then calling the advert “Tampons, Drag it”, making sure everyone knows that the butt of the joke was a transgender, was a good idea, either in the agency, in the test audiences, in the advertising standards agency, or in Libra themselves. Surely a red flag must have gone off somewhere? If not, why not.
With the world the way it is today, gender really can’t be qualified as either male, or female, just in the same way that sexuality cannot be defined by the words gay, or straight. Telling a person they can’t be something else never ends well, and I’m still struggling to understand why an agency thought this would be a great idea. I can only hope that there was a round of back slapping, and “oh Bob, you’re such a comedy genius, the ladies will lap that shit up” naivety involved, because otherwise we’re presented with a rather full, and open, can of worms.
Gender, sexuality, and race are tricky, and almost certainly grey areas. Can anyone remember the whole Pepsi Super Bowl fiasco? When dealing with touchy subject matter, viewers are bound to be offended. Does that mean that advertisers should avoid the areas completely, or should we try to push past the boundaries and laugh it off as harmless banter. Surely if everyone is picked on, then no one is left out? It’s a novel idea, but I doubt it will work. In the eyes of the agency at hand, I’m sure all publicity is good publicity, but with consumers already on their way to a full boycott, have Libra gone too far? And it’s with that, that I sit here, trying to work out which way my moral compass points.
Yes, I can see why the advert could be considered offensive; the bitchy drag-queen, the ‘competition’ to see who can be the most ladylike, the woman who goes too far, and most importantly the cluster of negative stereotypes, but on the other hand, has the advert been misconstrued as something more than just a light hearted attempt at humour, using an already accepted transgender (not one word is said about both ladies entering the toilet, nor is an eyebrow raised) as the punchline to a rather bad attempt at selling tampons. The problem I fear, is that I’ve been looking past the picture at hand. I’ve sat here for over two hours trying to see this advert from every direction, through the eyes of a creative, through the eyes of an offended viewer, and through the eyes of a 21st century (digital) boy, who finds it hard put to be shocked by anything these days.
I will fully admit that I am not the sharpest knife in the tool shed, and sometimes I fail to realise something that’s glaringly obvious to others. If I was a Misfit, I’d be Rudy; half of me would be in tears at the injustice of the entire situation, and the other half chuckling away at a rather poorly played out joke. Political correctness has a limit, but what exactly is the limit. Yes, People will complain; that’s a given, but in this instance, I feel that there is a justifiable reason for viewers to object, and I sure I’m not the only person who is awaiting Libra’s next move. For now, I can only try to understand the problem, and a way of doing that is to bring this advert to the attention of many, with the hope of spawning discussion.