Durex Challenges the Stigmas Around Anal Sex, Which It’s Not Allowed to Mention in Ads

The lubricant brand created self-censored ads and even a new chapter of the Kama Sutra

Durex billboard ad
New Durex campaign aims to tackle the taboo around anal sex. Durex / Havas London

LONDON—Combined, gay and straight people have anal sex 56 billion times a year, according to estimates by Durex, but the brand says the sexual act remains “stigmatized and underrepresented,” particularly in advertising.

To challenge that, and promote Durex’s lubricant products, Havas London, with help from media agency One Green Bean and Havas Paris, has created a provocative new campaign that alludes to anal sex but doesn’t explicitly mention it—because it can’t, due to the fact that a majority of mainstream media owners explicitly prohibit any reference to anal sex in advertising.

Anal sex is not uncommon, and it’s not abnormal. Yet we can’t talk about it on TV, in newspapers, on billboards or even online through social platforms.

Elliot Harris, global ECD, Havas London

As part of the campaign, billboards in the U.K. reference the censorship with an image of two men kissing and the text, “It’s 2020 and we still can’t talk about normal sex here.” The billboards promote an online educational hub created by Durex, which contains sex advice and information.

Durex has also enlisted the help of French sex expert Maïa Mazaurette to create a new chapter for the Kama Sutra, which is lacking, per Durex, in enough positive references to anal sex. It was exhibited in Paris until Aug. 31 and will be published online later this month.

Elliot Harris, global executive creative director at Havas London, said, “Anal sex is not uncommon, and it’s not abnormal. Yet we can’t talk about it on TV, in newspapers, on billboards or even online through social platforms. It’s time to end the stigma around any sex branded as ‘different’ and the negative connotations that implies—and that includes censorship from media owners—to democratize good sex for all.”


Client: Durex – Oriane Kowalczyk, marketing director, RB Health France, Belgium and the Netherlands
Creative agency: Havas London
Global executive creative director, RB: Elliot Harris
Creatives: John Ogunmuyiwa, Eduardo Boldrini, Ronnie Vleck
Managing partner: Ainhoa Wandworth
Business director: Nick Boyle
Account director: Sophie Amodio
Account manager: Ciaran Macwhite
Strategy partner: Chantelle Begley
Strategy director: Ally Chapman
Junior strategist: Asa Nowers,
Programme director: Matthew King
Senior producer: Stephanie Price
Producer: Rianna Johnson
Head of design: Lorenzo Fruzza
Digital design director: Simon Baker
CGI artists: XK Studios
Earned media agency: One Green Bean
Creative director: Daniel Roberts
Design director: Martin Dennison
Creative: Toby Rutherford
Associate business director: Jenna Birks
Senior account director: Sariyah Jalaluddin
Senior account executive: Sharnece Bent
Illustrator: Shreya Gulati

@saramayspary sara.spary@adweek.com Sara Spary is a freelance journalist based in London. She's been a reporter for eight years, covering advertising and consumer brands.