What happened: Condom brand Durex, known in China for its playfully suggestive ads, attracted official censure after a recent partnership with beverage purveyor Heytea. The campaign included an image of the brand’s popular, cream-covered tea along with the tagline, “Tonight, not a single drop left” (our translation). In addition, on microblogging platform Weibo, the official accounts of both brands published follow-up posts featuring cream-related innuendos. On Weibo, an official internet watchdog proclaimed that the campaign and those like it were “more frightening than pornography,” and vowed to include such “vulgar advertising” in its crackdown. Heytea has apologized for the post, and Durex replaced the ad with a new, less suggestive version.
Why it’s important: Durex has gained a reputation for toeing the line with its Chinese advertisements for years, winning it more than 3 million fans on microblogging platform Weibo. However, some netizens have criticized its latest campaign for lacking finesse, presumably attracting official attention. In addition to the Heytea ad, Durex has also partnered with various brands including food-delivery chain Ele.me (“Tonight, my mission is to quickly deliver”), to create a series of similar images. The brand may need to keep a low online profile going forward, however, as restrictions on content deemed “vulgar” continue to tighten.