China’s state-run Global Times was in high dudgeon on Sunday over “sexually suggestive marketing posts” from condom maker Durex, which previously enjoyed a “high reputation among Chinese netizens for its witty posters that track trending topics.”
The ads described in the Global Times article are not so much “sexually suggestive” as filled with juvenile double entendres, prompted by the observation that the date “4/19” sounds a little bit like “For One Night” when spoken aloud. That seems like more of a stretch than Durex condoms are normally expected to make:
Durex used the coincidence in a post on Sina Weibo and interacted with Chinese milk tea shop Heytea with a caption saying “no single drop should be left over.”
In another controversial post, Durex asked if Heytea still remembered their second date and claimed “your first bite is most precious.”
Heytea responded with [sic] by commenting that “my cheese is left over on your lips.”
Durex also said that “Every mouth deserves to be fed” in a cooperative poster with online catering service platforms Eleme.
The double meaning of these phrases has been widely criticized, with many netizens believing that the brands have disseminated pornographic and vulgar content.
As the Global Times went on to explain, Chinese people tend to be “conservative” when discussing casual sex, and some women complained about the Durex 4/19 campaign objectifying them in a way the company usually avoids. The article suggested a change of marketing consultants might have led the condom maker into its one-night stand with crass humor.
Durex might usually confine its sense of humor to riffing on Communist Party-approved news stories in the Chinese market, but the company is known in other markets for its racy sense of humor, some examples of which can be found here.
The company has been applauded for inventively using social media to break into the Chinese market, where conventional advertising and product distribution can be prohibitively expensive.