Healthcare: On the Agenda - Controversial ads lead to ASA ban

- In a nutshell

The Advanced Medical Institute (AMI), an erectile dysfunction treatment firm, recently courted controversy by refusing to comply with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The watchdog had requested that the firm remove its 'Want Longer Lasting Sex?' posters from billboards. The ads were for a prescription-only nasal spray that the firm claims can delay premature ejaculation.

- What was the problem?

The ASA requested AMI withdraw the ads pending the outcome of a formal investigation. The ASA received more than 400 complaints stating that the ad was offensive, gratuitous and inappropriate for public display. The ASA said prescription-only medicines cannot be advertised to consumers.

- What was AMI's response?

The firm initially issued a press release stating that it would not co-operate. AMI Europe's medical director Michael Spira said the ASA's actions were 'bizarre'. Spira said: 'Censoring ads that prompt men to take action about an important health issue should not be taken until a full investigation has been completed.' The company then issued a second statement last week saying it would comply with the ASA's demands.

- Media coverage

The story was picked up across national media, with coverage ranging from The Guardian to the Daily Star.

- PR support?

The global PR strategy for Australian-headquartered AMI was devised by Wilkinson PR. Wilkinson's UK partner is PLMR, which handled the media activity.

400 - Number of complaints the ASA received.

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