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Sex toy advert joking about Prince Harry’s memoir banned

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A sex toy advert referencing Prince Harry’s memoir has been banned for appearing where it could be seen by children.

The Lovehoney promo was displayed at Clapham Junction in southwest London in February.

It featured an image of a ball gag and large text stating “silence is golden, Harry” – and directed people to buy other similar products on its website.

The caption was a reference to the release of the Duke of Sussex’s memoir Spare, which included a series of bombshell claims about his time in the Royal Family – including revelations about his sex life.

Lovehoney said the ad was supposed to be “humorous” and make the point that “not all family stories needed to be shared with the public”.

But it was referred to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for being offensive and inappropriate to display somewhere that children might see it – a busy railway station in the capital.

The firm denied both, saying “a ball gag had no explicit sexual reference and its way of use was not readily identifiable without further knowledge”.

“Children would not recognise it as a sex toy, and there was nothing in the ad to change that,” it argued.

Read more:
King asked about Harry’s book
Why Harry left some details out of memoir

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Harry’s memoir: What you need to know

‘Possibly distasteful but not offensive’

The ASA rejected the complaint that the promo was offensive, saying that while the implied use of a sex toy to stop someone speaking may be considered “distasteful”, it was “unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence”.

But the regulator upheld the complaint about the ad’s placement.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDS 5 APRIL 2023 The advert for sex toy retailer Lovehoney has been banned
Image:
The advert for sex toy retailer Lovehoney has been banned

It noted while younger children were “likely to be unaware” about the true nature of the ball gag, older children “might have greater awareness of what the object was intended for”.

The promo was therefore deemed to have been “irresponsibly targeted”.

“The ad must not appear again in the form complained of,” the ASA ruled.

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