Morning-after pill ad dodges ban

LONDON - A TV ad promoting the emergency contraceptive Levonelle One Step has escaped a ban by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The animated ad, which features a woman going through a series of emotions following a condom breaking during a sexual encounter with her partner, provoked 112 complaints.

Viewers felt the cartoon style of the ad trivialised the severity of the situation and may encourage young people to engage in unprotected sex with numerous partners.

Bayer PLC, which makes the pill, said the ad aimed to inform viewers that obtaining Levonelle One Step from the pharmacist provided an easier alternative to visiting their GP or family planning clinic. The product was licensed in the UK for women over the age of 16.

The advertiser explained that the animated style of the ad was intended to reduce the stigma associated with using emergency contraception and communicate a calming message during a potentially stressful experience.

The ad was broadcast after the 9pm watershed and the woman in the animation was visibly older than 16. The advertiser pointed out that the woman was shown worrying about the consequences of a contraceptive mishap as opposed to unprotected sex. The phrase "the condom split" in the ad clearly demonstrated that.

The ASA noted the imagery and on-screen text, as well as the voiceover stating Levonelle to be an emergency contraceptive to be used in a specific situation where a contraceptive mishap had occurred.

The regulator considered the ad did not trivialise the issue or encourage promiscuity and unprotected sex; therefore, no futher action was found to be necessary.