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Advertiser: Procter & Gamble
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.16, 3.20
A television advertisement for Lenor Fabric Softener featured a double bed placed in the middle of a street in London. The voiceover states:
“We brought Lenor to London to find out – does it really give bedgasms?”
The first person shown in the bed exclaimed “a bedgasm?” whilst the word appears written across the screen.
The following shots featured various other people getting underneath the covers and snuggling into the bedclothes. They can be heard commenting on their comfort, the pleasant smell of the fabric softener and their surprise that the sheets were washed a week ago due to the lasting freshness. The advertisement ends with a shot of the first actor again exclaiming “a bedgasm!” and laughing.
Nine complaints were received in relation to the advertisement. The complainants felt that the advertisement was offensive and that the use of the word ‘bedgasm’ was overtly sexual in nature. They said that the advertisement was inappropriate to be shown before 9pm, as it introduced children to adult concepts and prompted them to enquire as to the meaning of the word ‘bedgasm’, which had left parents in an uncomfortable position.
The advertiser said they were saddened to hear that the copy had caused offense to a small number of viewers but stated that the term ‘bedgasm’ was not created by Lenor. They explained that the term derived from pop culture via Urban Dictionary and they provided a link to the definition, which states:
A feeling of complete and utter euphoria which peaks when climbing into bed at the end of an 18-hour workday, a long road trip or hours of extremely strenuous physical activity. Under perfect conditions, the physical release has been likened to that of an intense sexual experience.”
They said that they chose this word as they believed it personified the experience of consumers when sleeping in a bed with sheets that had been washed with Lenor fabric softener. They said they had been very careful to ensure that nothing depicted in the advertisement was sexual in nature, and they confirmed that they had placed a restriction on the advertising such that it would not be aired during programmes watched by less than 75% adults, therefore minimising the chances of children engaging with the copy.
They further said that the term had also been used in tier one magazine ‘Grazia’ among others as part of everyday language used to describe an amazing sleeping experience, and they provided links to articles by Grazia and Buzzfeed in support of this.
The advertiser said they would ask that the complaints be considered in the broader advertising landscape, i.e. that there are many advertisements, most particularly in the context of fragrances, beauty and cars that are considerably sexual in nature and they said they did not consider their Lenor advertisement to portray this type of blatant sexual nature.
They advised that while they remained of the view that the advertisement was not in breach of the Code, they had decided to make the following changes:
- While they had already placed a restriction on the advertising such that it would not be aired during programmes watched by less than 75% adults, going forward they will also manually check the TV programmes during which the advertisement will be aired.
- They will remove the written word ‘bedgasm’ from the TV copy.
- They will continue to monitor both their Consumer Relations Helpline and social media accounts.
Lastly, they advised that the campaign was only due to run until the end of April.
Complaint Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted the advertisers had given prior consideration to the likely minimum age of the potential majority of their viewing audience. While the advertisers considered that the content concerned was not in breach of the Code, the Committee acknowledged the changes volunteered by the advertisers.
The Committee gave consideration to the ongoing evolution of language and the concept of new terms being introduced into language which may not necessarily be common parlance. The definition offered by the advertisers was also noted.
The Committee noted that a number of viewers had found the term ‘bedgasm’ to be offensive. They considered that the advertisement was light-hearted and humorous and that the content of the advertisement was not sexual in nature. They also noted that the actors appeared to be fully clothed.
In the circumstances they did not consider that the advertisement was in breach of the Code.
No further action is required.