Viewers left outraged by pantyliner advert that uses "offensive" words vagina and discharge

Pantyliner advert that uses 'bold' language to describe bodily functions leaves viewers outraged by 'offensive' terms
Johnson & Johnson brand Carefree uses 'vagina' and 'discharge' in television ad



16:13 GMT, 17 July 2012

An advert for a popular brand of pantyliners has sparked outrage after viewers complained it contained language they deemed offensive.

The 30 second television commercial by Johnson & Johnson brand Carefree dispenses with the customary euphemisms and sanitised suggestions at bodily functions.

Instead, the actress in the advert talks openly about the woman's monthly cycle – mentioning the words 'vagina' and 'discharge'.

Frank: Johnson & Johnson say their decision to have the actress in the Carefree advert mention the words 'vagina' and 'discharge' was very conscious. 'We wanted to take a bold approach,' they said

Frank: Johnson & Johnson say their decision to use the words 'vagina' and 'discharge' was very conscious. 'We wanted to take a bold approach'

The actress in the commercial, naked but for a scattering of flower petals to protect her modesty, says to the camera that 'even that bit of discharge in between our period is our body working to keep the vagina healthy.'

She goes on to say that Carefree pads 'lock away wetness and odour, helping you to feel dry, clean and fresh every day.'

Such references may seem entirely innocuous to most.

But after the advert, created by ad firm 303Lowe, aired for the first time on Monday night in New Zealand, the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) received nine complaints, with viewers objecting particularly to the words 'vagina' and 'discharge'.

Offence: Some viewers were uncomfortable with the language used, and nine made complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau

Offence: Some viewers were uncomfortable with the language used, and nine made complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau

The advert, which carries a GXC rating, meaning it can be shown at any time except for during programmes that specifically target children under the age of 13, has been given the green light by the advertising standards authority.

Carefree spokesman Debbie Selikman told NSM that the company made a very conscious decision to use frank language.

'It's the first time a major brand has had the guts to use real words, not euphemisms or diminutive terms,' Selikman told NineMSN.

New Zealand media blog Stop Press reported that parent company Johnson & Johnson created the Carefree ad in response to a study that showed women would welcome a more honest conversation about their bodies, and revealed that 71 percent of Australian women admit to experiencing discharge while 66 percent are bothered by it.

Michelle Forster of Johnson & Johnson Pacific, the company that owns Carefree, said: 'We have decided to take a bold approach in this campaign with the aim to tackle a subject which as always been taboo.

'We want to encourage women to talk openly about their bodies, educating them both on discharge and the benefits of using Carefree act-fresh liners on a daily basis.'


Lion ‏@WhiteLion_1
Whoa whoa.. whoa! New Carefree advert.. using the word 'discharge.' Are we in that place Are we really in that place

Smiley Jones. ‏@periscopes_
People are actually complaining about the 'Carefree' advert because they say 'vaginal discharge.' Really! #growupaustralia

Lee! ‏@tsardust
Did that Carefree pantyliners ad seriously talk about vaginal discharge NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT THAT D:

benjamin thomson ‏@mrbennyt
Omggggggg the new carefree ad where she talks about discharge and odor ewwwwww

Lucy Hawthorne ‏@stealthpooch
I can't get behind this celebration of 'vaginal discharge.' The term 'discharge' when it relates to bodily functions is never OK #carefree

T-Bone Wilson ‏@fidged
Am I the only one who thinks the Carefree 'discharge' ad is actually a marketing ploy to get women to buy pads for everyday use

Clementine Ford Clementine Ford ‏@clementine_ford
Everyone's got their knickers in a twist about this ad. VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA.

In response to the Carefree ad story, this discharge happens to all women, not just “average looking” women. (continued)

Alistair Lloyd ‏@mr_al
I wonder if the new #Carefree #Discharge ad means that men will no longer be subjected to having condoms put on bananas

Zulaika Hutton ‏@zulaikaaah
I KNEW IT!!! I knew that Carefree add was tooooo freaking much using the words “vaginal discharge” during the advertisement. I so knew it!

Do YOU find the advert offensive Let us know what you think in the comments box below.