With the banning of promotional give-away’s, decreasing pharmaceutical marketing budgets, escalating regulation, and an ever-more sophisticated consumer, spare a thought for pharma marketing execs charged with getting their message across.
Enter Genus Pharmaceuticals who probably thought they’d struck a home run with their new UK advertising campaign for their eczema cream Cetraben.
The print ad featured the back view of a young woman walking down a street with the wind lifting her short skirt to reveal red-and-white polka dot underwear…along with the headline “Confidence to live life their way. However that may be.”
Turns out that’s not how one British doctor wanted to live his life! He complained to the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), which was created by the Association of British Pharmaceutcial Industry (ABPI) to act as an industry watchdog.
With his stiff upper lip clearly quivering the enraged physician claimed that the advertisement was “offensive and degrading due to its sexual and titillating picture”. Furthermore, he “despaired of the industry’s standards and culture” if they thought such an advertisement should be considered appropriate.
Following an investigation, PMCPA said that the ad did indeed breach Clause 9.2 of the Code, adding it is unacceptable to “display naked or partially naked people for the purpose of attracting attention and the use of sexual imagery for that purpose”.
Genus argued that the woman photographed was only embarrassed that her skirt had blown up in the wind. They claimed that the ad merely demonstrated that because of successful treatment of her eczema, she now had the confidence to wear a skirt and not cover her legs. The firm added that it had taken Clause 9.2 into account when considering the image, but believed that it was suitable for its intended audience, i.e.,adults and doctors.
The PMCPA countered suggesting that female adults and children would also be using this cream, and would likely also be offended.
Genus has since updated the image removing the view of the underwear, and lengthened the skirt. Sadly, we can’t bring you a picture of the old advert, as it has been pulled from journals and all but disappeared from cyberspace.
Instead why not tell us your thoughts on pharmaceutical advertising. Would a panty clad tush make you tusk? Would the polka dots drive you dotty?
We’d love to know.