The debut TV ad campaign by reusable period wear brand Wuka – which has been funded by the Sky Zero Footprint Fund – has been hit by a raft of complaints to the ad watchdog within days of launch, despite a six-month creative review process with Clearcast.
The Advertising Standards Authority has confirmed it has received 66 complaints about the ad, which features a shot of a blood clot in a shower.
Some complainants argue the representation of blood in the ad is too graphic and unnecessary; others believe the imagery is degrading and demeaning to women. Several complainants also objected that the ad was broadcast during the day when children may be watching.
An ASA spokesperson said: “We’re currently assessing the complaints carefully to determine whether there are grounds for an investigation. To be clear, we’re not currently investigating.”
The “taboo-busting” ad, which Wuka insists shows “an honest depiction of real period stories in an effort to normalise conversations around menstruation”, encourages women to ditch plastic-riddled disposable pads and tampons in favour of its sustainable period wear.
Wuka was one of five winners of the Sky Zero Footprint Fund, a £2m initiative which has seen the firms handed free TV advertising spots on Sky Media’s Linear TV and VOD platforms to promote business initiatives that are driving positive behavioural change for a more sustainable world.
The grand prix winner, Serious Tissues, received £1m, with Wuka and three others – including Royal Mail – getting £250,000 in media value.
Reviewing agency Clearcast had already raised concerns about a number of elements of the campaign content, but Wuka said it stood firm, “grounded in the belief that scenes of this nature, as part of the menstruating population’s everyday reality, should not be censored from TV”.
It argued that the inclusion of this type of content marks a tangible step towards education around periods in the UK and period equality.
When the campaign launched last week, Wuka CEO and co-founder Ruby Raut said: “I am a female founder, an immigrant and a self-funded businesswoman, who is disrupting the dominance of billion-dollar disposable period product giants. I have learned I have to punch way above my weight to make an impact, and the Sky Footprint TV commercial presented us with the perfect opportunity to speak up.
“In this ad – a first for WUKA – we didn’t want to hold back. We have been surprised by the challenges we faced in getting approvals, which is clear evidence that there is still a long way to go in normalising periods, smashing taboos and depicting period realities. A focus group also revealed real discomfort for some viewers, which again, shows how much work still needs to be done to make period realities part of our everyday conversations.
“Our creative was inspired by real life stories from customers. This ad is for them; to feel seen and heard and, most importantly, to bring periods out of the shadows and into the mainstream, normalising them and helping others speak more openly about this entirely natural biological process.”
Sky Zero Footprint Fund targets brands and agencies
Royal Mail unveils Sky Zero ‘send it greener’ campaign
COP26: Five brands feature in first ‘green’ TV ad break
Top clients and agencies join industry climate campaign
Industry insists climate dwarfs Covid in new rallying cry