Australia: 600 Complaints About An Advert Showing Menstrual Blood

The main argument underpinning the complaints was: "It's disgusting".

"Distasteful", "unnecessary", "offensive and inappropriate", "disturbing" and "not appropriate for children… Those are just some of the words used by Australian TV viewers calling for an advert for sanitary products showing blood to be pulled from their screens. 

After screening the advert from the brand Libra, Ad Standards received 600 complaints describing it as inappropriate, according to news website ABC.


Besides the fact that some viewers found the advert "disgusting", others had an issue with the broadcasting time: the advert was screened at 19:00, when it could be seen by children, and at lunchtime, when viewers argued that the images put them off their food.

What "Disgusting" Images Are We Talking About Here?

In the 2-minute advert, which you can watch below, we see the classic shot of a sanitary towel. A hand pours a red liquid over it from a vial to demonstrate the absorbent properties of the product. 

It's nothing new. For years now, red has replaced the traditional pale blue liquid which had been widely criticized by women.


The other shot which bothered viewers showed blood running down a young girl's leg in the shower. "Bodily secretions shouldn't be shown on TV ads", said one outraged viewer in their complaint. 

"It's a chicken and egg situation: is it because you haven't seen it on film and TV and therefore you've built up the stigma, in a way that you don't feel grossed out about the blood that comes from a knife wound?", said Lauren Rosewarne, a researcher in gender studies at the University of Melbourne.

The argument that "it's disgusting" wasn't upheld by Ad Standards, which has rejected all the complaints. The organization reminded viewers that the advert was "part of an advertising campaign designed to normalize menstruation, and remove any stigma of shame or embarrassment."


Article translated by: Eleanor Staniforth

By Clothilde Bru, published on 20/09/2019


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