Using Sex to Sell Eczema Cream?

Using Sex to Sell Eczema Cream?

August 21st, 2012 // 2:03 pm @

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Some people still demand standards in their advertising. A UK physician complained to a trade group that enforces an industry code that a recent ad by Genus Pharmaceuticals was “offensive and degrading due to its sexual and titillating picture,” which was used to promote a cream for treating eczema. The ad featured the back view of a young woman walking down a street as the wind lifts her short skirt to reveal red-and-white polka dot underwear.

The ad, which has since been tweaked, sported a headline that read: “Confidence to live life their way.. however that may be.” And the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, which was created by the Association of British Pharmaceutcial Industry, agreed by ruling that the “display of naked or partially naked people for the purpose of attracting attention and the use of sexual imagery for that purpose was unacceptable.”

In trying to play King Solomon, the PMCPA noted that ezema “might affect a patient’s self esteem and confidence,” a point raised by Genus in its response, and that the ad was “developed specifically to acknowledge the potential negative effects of eczema on people’s lives and demonstrate the positive impact successful treatment could have by restoring self confidence.”

The panel also acknowledged that ads to promote eczema treatments, in general, are almost certainly going to contain images of naked skin. On the other hand, the panel the ad went a bit too far, because the ad suggested that showing her panty-clad tush was not a proper example of how the Cetraben cream freed consumers to display new-found confidence in their appearance (here is the PMCPA ruling).

In its defense, cited numerous statistics about the extent to which eczema can be a debilitating condition that affects patients and insisted the ad was a “light-hearted route,” and the argued that other promotions for dermatological medicines promoted a “higher degree of nakedness than was used in the Cetraben advertisement… all of which featured people in everyday clothing none of which could be described as skimpy.”

Then, however, the drugmaker tried to dodge the accusation that a provocative image was deliberately used to sell itss product by insisting the woman in the ad was “only embarrassed that her skirt had blown up in the wind.” And thanks to the “successful treatment of her eczema she now had the confidence to wear a skirt and not cover her legs.” Genus then maintained “subjectivity” is hard to measure. As noted, the ad has now been updated to comply with the code.


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