Outrage over Libra commercial depicting menstrual blood dismissed by Australian regulators

Advertising regulators have dismissed complaints over a recent Libra commercial depicting menstrual blood, the first advert to do so on Australian prime-time television.

The advertisement, run by feminine care brand Libra in August, depicted menstrual blood on a woman's leg, a woman removing a sanitary pad and red liquid being poured onto the product.

More than 600 complaints were made by viewers, labelling the content as "inappropriate", "offensive" and "disgusting". The adverts received the highest number of complaints in 2019 so far. 

Industry regulators have dismissed the outrage, with Ad Standards praising Libra's campaign for its promotion of "equality" and "de-mystification of menstruation".

Asaleo Care, Libra's parent company, said the commercials tackled a taboo by aiming to counteract feelings of embarrassment over periods.

"Why is it considered unacceptable to show period blood? Periods are normal. Showing them should be too," the advert said in a message to its viewers.

Although regulators acknowledged how some would be "uncomfortable" with seeing "bodily fluids", they confirmed the campaign didn't breach the ethics code. 

"This is distasteful and unnecessary... some things should be a bit more private," said one complaint, as outlined in Ad Standards' case report.

The adverts are said to be a part of the award-winning Blood Normal campaign by Asaleo's sister company, hygiene and health brand Essity. 

The case report also outlined some positive reactions to the controversial campaign. 

"The message is too important and it's about time we get it loud and clear," one supporter posted to Facebook.

"The shot that hit me was the girl in the shower. That was real, that made me smile. So glad we are normalising periods again... half the population bleed, I'd say that's pretty normal," another wrote on Twitter.

"The TVC seeks to breakdown stigma and... provide a place for women and girls (and their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons) to access real information about menstruation... as a part of everyday real life and does not need to be hidden away," said the report's conclusion.


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