After 18 months of dismissing complaints against Advanced Medical Institute’s giant yellow ‘Want Longer Lasting Sex?’ billboards, the Advertising Standards Bureau has backflipped and decided that the ad not only sexualises children, but is also confronting to a large section of the community.

I wish I was joking.

There’s two major problems here:

1) The ASB believes that because a large section of the community finds sex confronting (or offensive) it warrants the removal of a text-only, genuinely tame and sober advertisement for a serious medical issue.

2) The ASB believes that the mere mention of the word sex constitutes the sexualisation of children.


If that’s true, billboards and television advertisements for issues like breast cancer are liable to suffer the same fate. There’s no doubt a section of the community would find breasts confronting if they were placed on a 15 metre billboard, and there’s certainly a great deal who find breasts sexual. But does the mere mention of the female breast or even a picture of one sexualise children? Does it mean the ads should be removed because some people find it offensive. Of course not.

As confronting as the concept of sex might be for some Australian’s, no one deserves the right to censor a company effectively marketing it’s services. Especially an ad so blatantly bland and for a disorder important to many man (and women).

Alison Abernethy of the ASB says in a press release that ‘the Board acknowledged that in the time since the original decision, debate in the community about the sexualisation of children has crystallised community concern about the unsolicited exposure of children to advertisements dealing with sexuality.

“The Board also considered the advertiser’s claim that the billboard deals with a medical disorder but determined that the words used were not medical in nature and were a blatant message about a sexual act.

“The increased placements since February 2007, its size, bold colours and blatant message were considered by the Board as making the billboard confronting to a large section of the community,” Ms Abernethy said.

Yet only a few months back, Abernethy said the AMI billboard ‘didn’t contain any graphic images or portrayal of nudity and the word sex isn’t offensive and there wasn’t any strong language.’

At the same time, AMI told SMH that the billboards triggered 1000 calls a day from men seeking help with erectile dysfunction. Inflated figures or not, there’s probably a good portion of the community who found the ad extremely helpful (the product? who knows).

AMI will now replace over 120 billboards Australia wide.

Cheers to Tim and Jon for the tip off.

Update 26/08/08: I’ve contacted the ASB for comment.