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Fine justified as Durex broke social norms

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-16 07:28


Durex, a well-known condom brand, is at the center of online discussions over a fine imposed on it for its risqué advertisements.

The Shanghai Municipal Administration for Market Regulation fined it 810,000 yuan ($120,500) in December, but the issue became public knowledge via social networking sites only on Thursday. Though some users defended Durex saying that a condom maker has the "license" to "sex up" its advertisements, a close look at what it has done shows the fine it has been slapped with is justified.

The content Durex used in advertisement posters is quite suggestive.

Advertising with milk tea brand Heytea, it lured customers saying,"Not a single drop left". But it was obvious that it was hinting at something else.

The poster with fast food delivery brand ele.me said,"Tonight we feed every mouth".

The poster with cinema ticket sales platform Taopiaopiao screamed,"Tonight just go into that secret corner", giving no prizes for guessing what was implied.

However, the condom company was penalized not for mentioning "sex" but for breaking some social norms while collaborating with ele.me, Heytea, and Taopiaopiao on April 19, 2019. The idea was to market the date, 4.19 or "four one nine", as "for one night", thus encouraging people to have a one-night stand.

More than hinting at sex, the advertisement drew criticism for alluding to people's private parts. The administration's order clearly listed the procedure for paying the fine, while also saying Durex could apply for a hearing if it disagreed with the administration's decision.

That the latter did not seek a hearing means it accepts it has gone too far this time, and there is no reason to blame the administration.

The fine on Durex should serve as a reminder to all companies that advertising about condom may still be okay, but encouraging one-night stands is a strict no-no.

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