Normalising Sex Toys

This is an ad by agency ABF Pictures, who also do the hated ads for MandM Direct that bookend Simpsons episodes and the cheapy actor-as-talking-head-member-of-public Vistaprint ones that try to convince hapless mobile hairdressers that they can have a great business if only they buy 500 bespoke business cards.

They seem to have employed the same technique here for – an online dildo vendor that’s trying to, er, crack the young couples market by convincing them that there’s nothing weird about shoving a rubber analogue of a penis up your foo-foo.

Not that there is of course. Each to their own – or in their own – I say. The problem here, however, is that the agency in question obviously thinks this is, ahem, a hard-sell. Why else the simpering couple-speak, pastel background, tinkly muzak and non-threatening female voiceover? It’s the advert equivalent of blowing up a horse’s nose and ABF said their mission was to ‘normalise sex toys’. Phwoar. Here are some of the choicer quotes:

“Discreet packaging…”

This is mentioned in every iteration of the ad at least once.

“Let’s face it – loads of couples use sex toys.”


“I wish we’d discovered it sooner – it’s done wonders for our sex life.”

Feeling dead inside? Buy some bondage gear!

“What blew me away most was the customer service.”

Really? The customer service, which presumably amounted to sending you something you’d paid for, ‘blew you away’? When I imagine someone being blown away I imagine them being sucked into a whirling vortex of wind. But in a good way. Does that mental image tally with punching in some details into a website and then receiving a butt plug in the post three days later?

In amongst all this are shots of the actors in the advert giggling – just laughing and laughing and laughing forever – while sharing lingering looks; looks heavy with intent and meaning. Looks that say “I never knew you wanted to shove your knob up my arse,” or “Now that I’ve pissed on you, can we ever go back to loving each other like normal human beings?”

All scoffing aside, this really is as wretched as the Vistaprint and MandM Direct adverts. We really don’t do sex well in the UK and this – along with the LoveHoney website – is a prime example. It’s cloyingly coy, naff, trite and about as sexy as Andrew Neil hosting an extra-long version of You And Yours.

The website, for its part, is pitched somewhere between Asda’s corporate branding and a Carry On Film – the Rampant Rabbit, the one sex toy that ladies seem to feel comfortable admitting to, er, owning, is a case in point here. Could it be any less threatening? Any more absurd? In case you’re wondering the two ears of the rabbit – yes, there’s an actual rabbit in dildo form – are the bits that are designed to stimulate a clitoris. Just imagine men owning vibrating rubber fannies with the face of a sheep on the front – they’d be committed, or arrested, and rightly so. The Rabbit is totemic of how embarrassed we are about sex – and that’s Lovehoney all over. They don’t even sell proper porn for crying out loud, as if that crosses some notional taste barrier.

And while I’m going slightly off-beam here, that name. Sweet. Sickly sweet. And vaguely suggestive of some sort of sexual lubrication, surely? Honey, honeypot? Gah! What I say is this. If you’re going to porn and sex toys then man up, go into a shop slap your money down on the counter and declare your intention to buy the biggest plastic cock and the filthiest porn they have and revel in the shock and awe. And if you absolutely must get your girlfriend into porn and kinky stuff don’t faff about on some horrible website, grow some balls and tell her you want to bum her. What’s the worst that can happen?

Finally a tip. When an ex of mine wanted to get into porn and sex toys I used a site called Blissbox. It’s refreshingly straight-laced and graduates stuff by how dirty it is (on the basis that you’re buying stuff for your missus who might be shy). The ex in question wasn’t interested in the moderate stuff and demanded the filthiest porn there was. We both learned a lesson there.