back to article ASA indignates prematurely over billboard sex ads

The Advanced Medical Institute has refused to withdraw billboard ads for a nasal spray for "male sexual problems", despite an Advertising Standards Authority edict they must come down since they're punting prescription-only drugs. According to the BBC, the ASA is currently probing over 450 complaints about the ads, which …


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  1. Jason Baziliauskas

    I spotted one of the ads on the M1.

    Huge get big red letters and everything. I was starting to think that the spammers had found a new bot network which had infected the billboard printers.

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  3. Stuart Gray

    Forget giving offence

    Why are they bothering to investigate, when the ads are already in clear breach of the "no prescription drug" rule?

  4. Richard

    What we need is

    Pictures so we can judge for ourselves if it is offensive or inappropriate

    oh wait... but of course we aren't allowed to use our own judgement are we? It's the nanny state police who make all our decisions for us. oops I forgot, please dont lock me up for being a free thinking radical

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Hey Nonny Mouse

    They offend me.

    Probably for all the "wrong" reasons according to the Daily Knee Jerk. I don't give a monkey's that they are advertising something to do with sex because sex is natural, fun and healthy, and is only offensive in more extreme contexts which are mostly correctly outlawed already. (And boobies make me smile)

    But I abhor the advertising of any prescription drugs, because people then go and ask doctors for them specifically, instead of letting the doctor make up their mind what the best treatment is.

    The ASA should have yanked these willy ads off already <snerk, cough, ahem>

    Paris because, well, um, someone mentioned sex.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Act Now!

    Save yourselves! Have you ever been to the United States? That's what happens when advertisements for prescription drugs are permitted. Aside from nuisance, it encourages people to go to their doctors and request prescription medication based on the same level of information they would use to select laundry soap. The only advantage in allowing these advertisements is the comedy potential of fast-speaking voice actors reading long lists that start with "Side-effects may include: ..."

  7. Anonymous Coward


    The spray helps your nose stay erect for longer?? I think I'm missing something here...

  8. Flugal

    You've missed the point

    It's nothing to do with it being offensive or otherwise, it's because it is not currently legal to advertise prescription-only products in the UK.

    Unless you want to see a situation like the US, where each TV ad slot is packed with prescription-only products urging you to give your ill-informed, marketing-lead suggestion to your GP that you need this or that product, it seems worthwhile keeping prescription-only products away from advertising.

    Mine's the one with a medicine cabinet full of hard-on drugs in the pocket.

  9. David Webb
    Paris Hilton


    "We'll save you the trouble: If the ASA has the power to order the ads taken down, why bother with an investigation as to whether they offended the delicate sensibilities of Middle England?"

    Because there is a procedure they need to go through for ones that are not obviously against their standards, at least that the most likely explanation. if they just said "ok, take down the advert NOW!" willy nilly, and then had an investigation which proved the adverts did not break the rules, wouldn't they be liable for the costs to the advertiser?

    In a case like this, where its obvious they are breaking the rules (advertising presription only medication), the investigation can only possibly go in favour of the ASA so it doesn't matter what they do.

    Paris because, hell no, I don't need no stinking medication!

  10. Graham Dresch

    Sense of proportion ?

    Time the ASA , the BBC, OFCOM etc... got one.

    450 complaints out of a population of >50 million ?

    The standard response from the ASA etc. should be 'Get a Life' until they reach at least 25% of the population.

    They must also be careful to eliminate 'professional complainers' from the total before any action is taken.

  11. John Macintyre

    want longer sex?

    I kept seeing these ad's, and just thought how they hell they managed to get an ad approved that had the word sex written bigger than a double decker bus.

    I can see the issue with the prescription drug thing though. Everyone always complains about the americanisms that we have here like litigation culture and general attitudes, this is another americanism I believe where because they have no nhs, they talk people into asking their gp's for certain drugs instead of letting the gp do their job, thus making more dosh. Whether this is the underhanded intention or not i don't know, personally i never read beyond the 'sex' bit on the ad and didn't know it was a prescription only drug either, nor would I got to a doc and say 'this billboard said i could last longer in bed, give me the drug it advertises'.

    oh and another thing: "Censoring ads that prompt men to take action about an important health issue they may be experiencing is a big decision that certainly should not be taken until a full investigation has been completed." The ad says do you want to last longer in bed, that's not an important health issue, it's not showing you a cancer drug, it looks like it's selling viagra!

  12. Francis Vaughan

    Been there, done that

    Here in Oz we have been through this exact same rigmarole. Same Ads, same product, same arguments. Same boring futility.

    The ads don't actually name the drug, so they skirt the letter of the law. The main argument here centered on the word "sex". With some quite silly and contrived complaints. Now the ads are varied, some have a big "censored" laid over the part that said "sex". Actually slightly amusing when you know the history. Others just mention lasting longer in bed.

    Personally I found the ads extremely offensive. Any ad writ in huge letters of lurid colours like that is going to offend the sensibilities of a large fraction of the populace. No matter what is says. They are ugly and horrid. Seems a pity that taste doesn't form part of the standards.

  13. Stuart Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Health Hazard

    Certainly are. I remember when the one on the A4 approaching Earl's Court went up. LONGER LASTING SEX had me hitting the curb, and NASAL TECHNOLOGY had my mind boggling all the way to Chelsea Embankment.

    Maybe OK in a lads' magazine but roadside posters is just thoughtless and dangerous. ASA ain't my favourite body but this time my criticism is "what took you so long?". Trust the company which has already been banned from doing this in their own country (hello Earls Court again?) will be hammered for its further attempt to delay removal.

    Then I suppose all they want is this free publicity.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sue them

    If the ad does not break the obscene publications act, or does not mislead or seek to deceive or otherwise break the law then it's legal, regardless of what the ASA says.

    ASA has no special legal basis, they simply claim to be a regulatory body. If they wrongly try to get your legal advert pulled, then it's tortuous interference in business, and you can extract damages from them.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plenty of Blame to Go Around

    Ads for prescription-only medicine wouldn't be cost-effective if:

    (1) People used discretion in evaluating whether they did or did not have a problem; and

    (2) Doctors prescribed medicine only for conditions they had diagnosed, and even then, only the medicines their expertise demanded.

    The reason there are prescription medicines at all is because we know we can't rely on (1). But: the presumption behind prescription medicines is that even if the public isn't responsible, doctors are. And that seems demonstrably false as well.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Objective achieved?


    Have a slightly risque Ad

    Wait for ASA to generate free publicity from column miles of "indignation"

  17. Anonymous Coward

    ASA - don't make me laugh

    ASA are as much use to society as OFCOM. And just about the same level of competence.

    Another self serving quango.

  18. Adrian Esdaile

    Been there, done that, in Sydney

    Same ads, same product, 6 months ago in Sydney.

    Guess what? - all the complaints came from Christian fundaMENTAList god-botherers.

    Religion Ruins EVERYTHING.

    Flames, because I hope to one day be burnt at the stake for heresy.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice to see

    Nice to see that only about two people bothered to actually read and understand the article before commenting...

    If you want a pretty good idea of why not to advertise prescription drugs to un-educated (ie: non-medical doctors) have a quick read of Bad Science by Ben Goldacre,it's probably also covered on his web site too.

  20. Rolf Clayton
    Thumb Down

    Nasty ad.

    All those prats who don't care about these nasty adverts should try walking past them with a curious 7-year old. This is not the way to introduce children to sex.

  21. Dave

    @Graham Dresch

    Actually, judging by the number of complaints usually quoted, that is a hell of a lot. Since these are static adverts, only a fairly small proportion of the population will have seen them. Of those, only a small proportion have any idea how to complain about them, and of those people, only a proportion will have enough free time on their hands to make such a complaint, so by my reckoning this is a massive number.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Adrian Esdaile

    "Religion Ruins EVERYTHING."

    Do you hear that siren noise in the background? That's the hyperbole police.

  23. Patrik Oqvist

    Saw one being removed outside Waterloo

    It looked like it hadn't lasted very long and quite limp

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