In 2015, the MTA put up a fight when Thinx wanted to post ads for their period-proof underwear in the New York City subway. The MTA’s advertising middleman Outfront Media reportedly told the feminine-hygiene brand yonic images of grapefruit were “inappropriate.” So it may come as a surprise — or maybe not — that an erectile-dysfunction medication ad with a very similar aesthetic, only phallic, had no trouble at all getting their ads placed.
According to a report from Broadly, the erectile-dysfunction brands Hims and Roman both recently ran racy posters in New York City train stations without bumping into any issues.
Roman’s ads are very clear about what they’re selling, with one slogan reading, “Erectile dysfunction meds you definitely don’t need, but your ‘friend’ was asking about,” and Hims’ ads feature erect succulents and eggplants to represent penises, shot against Glossier-pink backgrounds. The CEOs of both companies told Broadly that working with Outfront Media was a breeze, praising the company’s professionalism and understanding; neither said they ran into any roadblocks.
This sharply contrasts with the experience Thinx reps said they had with Outfront, who were apparently concerned the ads of women in tank tops and boy-short underwear showed too much skin, and expressed concerns that children might see the word “period” and ask their parents what it meant. (Outfront denied that their decision to reject the ads was sexist, insisting, “this is not a women’s issue,” but ultimately approved them after receiving press backlash.)
It’s possible that the company has adapted over the past three years, having realized their mistake after the Thinx-related backlash, and the ED ads they approved reflect this evolution — but it’s hard to say, as reps from the company wouldn’t comment on how their policies have changed.
According to Thinx CBO Siobhan Lonergan, the erectile-dysfunction ads have Thinx’s blessings nonetheless. “When it comes to bodily functions, we believe as long as the ads are respectful, they should have a platform,” she told Broadly.