Toothbrush company apologizes for highly sexual 'spit or swallow' ad targeting female freshers
"Whether you spit or swallow as part of your (twice...) daily oral regime, place your oral health on autopilot with BrushBox," the ad aimed at female students read
A toothbrush company apologized after an advertisement aimed at female fresher students was deemed to be suggestive and inappropriate. BrushBox found itself in hot water over a campaign with sexual undertones, with several taking to Twitter to protest the poor marketing scheme.
According to the Daily Mail, the London-based toothbrush subscription service included the ad in a welcome pack that was given to female students at the University of Sussex.
It read, "Whether you spit or swallow as part of your (twice...) daily oral regime, place your oral health on autopilot with BrushBox."
While that statement in itself may be considered risque but somewhat harmless, it was the image on the other side that enraged students further. It consisted of a close-up image of a woman's mouth with toothpaste foam dribbling out of her mouth.
The ad was posted on Twitter by feminist group Untameable Shrews, with the caption, "Young woman is accepted into the University of Sussex and this is in her welcome bag. WTF @SussexUni do you have any respect for women? This is sexual harassment."
The post was accompanied by several angry comments, with one writing, "This is grotesque. There is cheeky innuendo, and then there is objectifying misogynistic porn-culture. If my university produced this I'd be complaining to the highest level of management," with another similarly posting, "That is nothing short of disgraceful. At best it’s ill-considered; at worst sexual harassment."
Writing on their own post, Untameable Shrews responded to a comment on the thread by writing, "The fact that the concept entered someone's brain to begin with demonstrates the misogynistic rape culture that exists. I don't know how it made it got past the design workshopping. @SussexUni @USSU @brushboxuk are all complicit in fostering rape culture."
Our statement regarding the promotional material contained with-in our Dig-in boxes this year. pic.twitter.com/VLm0m72aHV— Sussex Students' Union (@USSU) 21 September 2018
The Sussex Students' Union responded to the outrage by tweeting a statement: "We were very disappointed to find this promotional material in our Dig-In boxes, and we will be reviewing our relationship with the supplier in future."
Their statement similarly read, "The Students' Union at Sussex does not support or condone the inappropriate material distributed on behalf of Brushboxes which was found in the Dig-In Boxes delivered to all Freshers this year. Our Students' Union promotes equality and provides a safe and inclusive environment for all, and we are let down by the events that have occurred."
It also promised to consult with students on whether to continue their relationship with Dig-In Boxes.
A spokesperson for BrushBox apologized following the uproar and said, "We are really sorry if anyone has been offended by the promotional image used on the beer mat which was distributed to Universities. We now realize it was inappropriate and misguided of us to use this type of image as a way to raise awareness of dental health issues."
"We completely understand that the image could be deemed as derogatory to women and for that, we are truly sorry - this was never our intention, and we take full responsibility for any upset it has caused," the spokesperson added.
"BrushBox is a company which prides itself on its family and ethical ethos and we are very disappointed that something which was meant to encourage good health habits amongst students has caused any offense."