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Ad seems to hint sex crime victims should just take aspirin — and it won an award

This week, a Brazilian advertising agency won top industry awards in Cannes, France for a Bayer campaign.

One promotion featured a balding man. The text directed 38 year olds with hair loss to take aspirin — and teenagers with the same issue to reach for extra strength pills.

Another showed a cardboard box. Movers should prepare with aspirin, the copy suggested. Those getting evicted, however, should opt for extra strength.

A third displayed . . . What?

This one doesn’t immediately make sense. Upon closer inspection, it seems to suggest: If someone records you having sex without your permission, take a really strong aspirin.

The advertisement, released in March throughout Brazil, snagged a Bronze Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, an annual celebration of media and marketing. An international panel of judges select the winners. Per the festival’s website:

Once a year, the industry’s most curious, capable, ingenious minds are assembled to pore over innovative, inspiring communications from around the world and award the most coveted creative prize there is.”

The Bayer ad, titled .Mov, comes from AlmapBBDO in São Paulo. Seven authors received credit. They’re all men. (The agency and Bayer did not respond to requests for comment.)

Cindy Gallop, former chairman and president of the global advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s U.S. arm, noticed the spot in Cannes, where she spoke on a panel about sex in the media.

“The rampant sexism you see in Mad Men is regrettably still true today,” she said

Others expressed similar disgust on Twitter:

“This ad about filming yourself having sex with a woman without her consent won an award at #CannesLions.”

“The Ethical Adman: #canneslions bronze winner for Bayer makes fun of consent”

In May, the brutal gang-rape of a Brazilian teenager grabbed international headlines after assailants video-recorded the assault and posted the graphic footage to social media. Many similar incidents have happened in the United States. It speaks to broader views on sex and rape, Gallop said. The poster appeared to make light of surreptitiously recording intimacy. That’s a sex crime with lasting psychological effects on victims.

The fact that “ingenious minds” lauded the work is troubling, she said. “It’s a detrimental force when you think how powerful ad is in popular culture.”

It also reflects the lack of gender diversity in advertising, Gallop said: The vast majority of creative directors in the United States, for example, are men. Bayer’s board of management, meanwhile, has six men and one woman.


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