With the launch of a new line of our organic lubricant, Royal began to expand its offering of sexual health and personal care products. Although the use of these products grows each year, their advertising continues to be a controversial topic among marketers.
Moreover, customers can only find condoms and items used for sexual pleasure in separated aisles in stores, which fuels the taboo surrounding them. It’s one of the reasons why sexual health products entered the health and wellness niche.
The advertising of personal care products faces rigid regulations from sites like Google and Facebook in favor of protecting minors and complying with the local laws of each country. But how do you promote healthy sexual life with such restrictions? Also, how are you able to stay present on the market when there’s a discrepancy in the type of allowed content for certain companies, while not for others?
About the History of Health and Wellness Product Advertising
Somewhere amid the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the need for contraceptives increased. That’s when the pharmaceutical industry introduced The Pill, and more women around the world experienced sexual liberty.
Around the same time, more people started to consider condoms as a means of contraception. However, it was not until the beginning of the 1980s and the AIDS crisis that condoms were widely advertised as prevention from sexually-transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
Newspapers and other media outlets, such as television networks, started publishing condom ads, which was met with shock and outrage from conservative viewers. However, it was inevitable to do so to prevent the epidemic that affected hundreds of thousands of people in the US alone.
Facts aside, today’s advertising policies for sexual health products are much more relaxed than in the previous century. Nonetheless, companies still face certain restrictions when marketing the products from this niche.
Adult and Healthcare Content Restrictions on Search Engines and Social Media
The main issue with condoms is that they can be subject to both Adult and Healthcare Content restrictions. For example, Google’s Advertising Policy on Adult content states that “Some kinds of adult-oriented ads and destinations are allowed if they comply with the policies below and don’t target minors, but they will only show in limited scenarios based on user search queries, user age, and local laws where the ad is being served.”
In other words, they allow “non-family safe” content (lubricants, sex toys, and similar products) only under specific conditions. These ads can show only on Search Network on Google and are banned in over a dozen countries.
Nevertheless, Google never mentions condom ads in its Policy, whereas it’s impossible to advertise them on Google Display Network, Smart Shopping, YouTube, and Gmail ads.
As for the Healthcare and Medicines content, the ads have to abide by the local laws. Condoms are more a part of this category if they promote birth control and family planning. However, the “Birth control” section is completely banned in certain countries.
Facebook, on the other hand, places condoms in the Adult Products or Services section, where the ad has to emphasize “the contraceptive features of the product, and not on sexual pleasure or sexual enhancement, and must be targeted to people 18 years or older.”
Now, what happens if the user searches for a product solely on the notion that you use it for sexual pleasure? He or she won’t see those ads. They’re either banned or censored.
As a company that has to market similar products, Royal has to be creative and avoid straightforward advertising. It’s the only method to stay competitive in a field where other comparable companies are getting much more exposure, albeit marketing products of questionable origin or quality.
Is this fair? Should companies be more restricted, less restricted, or remain the same? Let’s put it this way, if Russian hackers are able to advertise and manipulate an election, I think condoms and sexual wellness products are the least of Google and Facebook’s worries...