Advertising Standards Board Defends Sexual Health Campaign

Drama Down Under

The Advertising Standards Board has responded to complaints made against an advertising campaign that aims to encourage people (in particular, men) to get tested for sexually transmitted infections.

The Drama Downunder campaign is a resource and awareness-raising initiative to encourage same sex attracted men to educate themselves about STIs and have frequent tests.

The website includes information about the most common sexually transmitted infections experienced by gay men, as well as a list of clinics across the country that offer confidential STI checks. Visitors to the website can also sign up for email or SMS reminders to get tested.

A series of image-based advertisements have been released directing people to the campaign website. According to the case report released by the Advertising Standards Board, two have been the subject of complaint: one featuring a man in his underwear with a cat on his chest alongside the slogan “Don’t be a Scaredy Cat! Testing for syphilis: No Drama” (see above: right) and another featuring the same man with a dog on his chest with the copy “Go fetch! Testing is easy. Get tested, get treated, no drama!”

A complainant had written to the board expressing concern of the advertisement’s proximity to a school, requesting that it be removed.

“It is highly inappropriate material for a main thoroughfare in front of a main train station, where young children are forced to view it, either walking by or on a tram. I had to explain to my 3 year old why the man was not wearing any clothes.” the complaint read in part.
The Advertising Standards Board considered the complaints, and determined that the level of nudity in the advertisement was consistent with advertisements for lingerie and that the topic of sexual health was broached with appropriate sensitivity.

“The Board noted the text on the advertisements and considered that the suggestions that men should get tested for syphilis are presented in a non sexualised and practical manner. The Board acknowledged that some members of the community would prefer that this type of community awareness message was not promoted outdoors where children could view it but considered that overall the content of the advertisement did treat the issue of sex, sexuality and nudity with sensitivity to the relevant broad audience which would include children.” the report stated in part.

More information about the Drama Downunder campaign is available here.
Sophie Joske

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