First Sex Toy Retailer Ad on TV in U.K. Will Air in Daytime During Episode of U.S. Show ‘The Real Housewives of New York City’

Sep 28, 2011  •  Post A Comment

By Emma Hall
Advertising Age

Lovehoney will become the first sex-toy retailer to advertise on TV in the U.K. on Oct. 3, when a 30-second spot debuts at 10.15 a.m. during an episode of imported U.S. reality show "The Real Housewives of New York City."

The ad shows a fully clothed couple smooching to a punky guitar soundtrack. As they pull away from each other, the woman says, "Have a good day at work," and the man says, "Yeah, you too." He then picks up his briefcase and walks out the door. It finishes with a voiceover saying, "Lovehoney.co.uk. The sexual happiness people."

Nick Ellis, creative director at Lovehoney’s agency, Halo Media, said that Lovehoney’s aim is to reposition the eight-year-old brand into the "well-being" category, but that they had had to make some changes to their original ads before they could be broadcast or posted on billboards.

"You can use sex to sell most products, but as a sex-toy retailer, no hint of anything overtly sexy is allowed," Mr. Ellis said. "We wanted to use the track ‘Teenage Kicks’ but Clearcast [which vets all TV ad scripts before broadcast] wouldn’t let us, so we wrote a soundtrack which has a similarly urgent, youthful feel."

Clearcast eventually cleared the ad for viewing at any time except during children’s programming.

The two billboard ads show a couple kissing, one in a train and one in a supermarket. London Transport would not allow the train version to be shown in subway stations, and insisted that Halo Media edit the supermarket ad so that you couldn’t see the man’s hand on the girl’s waist before they would agree to run it. They also changed the copy to read "adult toys" instead of "sex toys."

"You see how hypocritical people can be," Mr. Ellis said. "There are much more suggestive ads out there, but because of what we are selling, there is a level of taboo. It’s ridiculous that we are not seen as working in the well-being category. A healthier sex life leads to a healthier body and mind."

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