Aussie Startup NORMAL Invites Media Companies To Normalise Sexual Wellness In Advertising

Aussie Startup NORMAL Invites Media Companies To Normalise Sexual Wellness In Advertising
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Aussie sexual wellness company NORMAL is using its Black Friday campaign, This is NORMAL, to pave the way for advertising sex in 2021 and beyond.

NORMAL has gained cult status in Australia, and offers sexual wellness devices and educational content with the belief sex should be stress-free, stigma-free and regret-free. 

Despite its popularity, the brand is no stranger to shadowbanning.

The DTC retailer has regularly committed the crime of using the word “sex” to advertise its products, and in the lead-up to the This is NORMAL campaign, encountered a complete ban from an advertiser for using the word “sex” and using images of their product offering. 

Now, the company is calling for an overhaul of the advertising industry’s antiquated approach to sexual wellness content

In an opinion editorial published today, founder, Lucy Wark, called out the double standards of Australia’s advertising industry while sharing the disappointing non-responses of justification for why NORMAL’s ads were rejected. 

“Showing modern sex toys in a humorous way isn’t allowed, but we flood footy games watched by families with ads promoting online gambling and alcohol — even though we have the world’s highest gambling losses per capita, and 1 in 3 of us has been affected by alcohol-related violence.

“And there is a gendered double standard as well. Aggressive ads related to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation will often run in the same places and platforms that veto sex toy ads as ‘explicit’ and ‘inappropriate’.

“Bottom line — sexual pleasure for people with penises is considered a healthcare issue, but sexual pleasure for women is obscene, and sexual pleasure for non-binary people is invisible.”

Of her decision to share the challenges the brand has faced to advertise to its customers, Wark says: “We want Australia to know about the moves we’re making to change sex for the better, and so at NORMAL, we continue to hold up our end of the bargain by fitting within the blurry parameters laid out by Australia’s biggest advertising groups.

“If advertisers pride themselves on staying relevant, and ad awards celebrate breaking new ground, then they need to acknowledge that conversations about sex are being had, with or without them.”

Since its launch, NORMAL has been turned down for campaigns across mainstream and online media, and this censorship has forced the brand to get creative in the ways they advertise; in fact, NORMAL’s unique approach to marketing is something its users love most.

Despite the initial setbacks, NORMAL doubled down on their advertising by heroing their sex toys and content that celebrates intimacy and self-pleasure, scoring billboards, trucks, and even toilet cubicle doors.

Sex has made headlines this year, with ongoing conversations around improved consent education like Chanel Contos’ Teach Us Consent campaign, along with failures like the government’s infamous Milkshake ad. NORMAL wants to improve access to conversations about sex.

Wark says, “Whether it’s how to discuss consent in a healthy way, understanding what brings you pleasure, or feeling confident in your sexual relationships, sexual wellness is an important part of our overall wellbeing.

“It’s really refreshing to see that recognised by organisations like David Jones, who just launched NORMAL’s range, or TedX, where we’ll be delivering an event this year — and we know the advertising industry will catch up soon enough.” 

Most recently, NORMAL’s award-winning creative team had been planning a widespread campaign in celebration of annual Black Friday Sale events. Despite initial rejections from advertisers, creative collateral will be circulating on a number of traditional and unconventional platforms throughout the coming weeks. 


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