Desigual ad featuring woman piercing condoms faces ban

Regional government calls for “Happy Mother’s Day” spot to be withdrawn

A frame from the Desigual ad.
A frame from the Desigual ad.

The Catalan regional government is considering calling for the withdrawal of a TV advertisement that features a woman puncturing a condom with a needle in order to get pregnant.

Neus Munté, the Catalan regional government’s Welfare and Family director, has accused the company responsible for the spot, Desigual, of treating sexual health “frivolously.” The advertisement features a young woman stuffing a cushion under a figure-hugging stretchy short dress and posing in front of a mirror. She then pulls a packet of condoms from her handbag and pierces one with a needle. The message “Happy Mother’s Day” appears on the screen.

Speaking on regional radio, Munté said that it was responding to complaints made by women’s groups and other organizations that were offended by the advertisement. “This is trivializing prevention and safety in the matter of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and pregnancy,” she said, adding that a company as well known as Desigual should have taken a more responsible approach, “given its influence among young people.”

This is trivializing prevention and safety in the matter of HIV and pregnancy”

The women’s section of labor union CCOO described the advertisement as “sexist, irresponsible, frivolous and offensive,” adding that it perpetuated stereotypes that belong to the last century.” NGO Creación Positiva, which educates HIV awareness among women, called for a boycott of Desigual.

The fashion chain has issued a press release describing the advertisement as “a cry of personal freedom and the right to pursue one’s dreams,” and is part of a series of spots supposedly highlighting decision-making power. “Piercing a condom is a song to motherhood. A symbol, a metaphor. The imagination does not think about consequences,” says the company. It added that the advertisement had also been attacked by anti-abortion rights groups.

Desigual added that it was not its intention nor place to “tell people how to behave,” and that none of the women in its advertisements are meant to represent what it means to be a woman. It has condemned calls for the spot to be removed, calling them an attack on free speech as well as describing its campaign as “daring, optimistic, and about people who are taking control of their lives.”

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