Sex toy ad poking fun at Prince Harry is banned

A digital billboard featuring the text ‘silence is golden, Harry’ and ‘Spare ball gags available...’ has been taken down

Eoghan O'Donnell
Thursday 06 April 2023 11:09 BST
Spare: Revelations from Prince Harry's book

An advert for the sex toy retailer Lovehoney that referenced the Duke of Sussex’s tell-all memoir Spare has been banned.

The digital billboard had large text stating: “Silence is golden, Harry”.

In smaller text, it read: “Spare ball gags available at”.

It was visible at London’s Clapham Junction train station on 8 February. However, it has since been banned for appearing where children could see it.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received one complaint. The complainant claimed the advertisement was offensive and inappropriate for display, particularly in an untargeted medium visible to children.

Lovehoney has stated that the ad was not offensive. They said it was a response to Harry’s memoir, which elaborated on “a number of indiscreet revelations, some of which had a sexual reference”.

When the ad was first published, Lovehoney said it “was meant to be humorous and that not all family stories needed to be shared with the public”.

Lovehoney argues that the ad was appropriate for untargeted display because children would not recognise the ball gag as a sex toy, particularly as it has no explicitly sexual references.

An empty platform at Clapham Junction station in south-west London (PA)

The ASA understood a ball gag was a sex toy placed in a partner’s mouth to prevent speech. The advertising authority said that the ad was unlikely to cause widespread or serious offence, but some people would find it “distasteful”.

“We therefore considered that the ad was inappropriate for outdoor display where it could be seen by children. We concluded that the ad had been irresponsibly targeted.”

It’s not the first time the online sex toy store has caused controversy over risqué adverts. In 2018 four people reaching an orgasm featured in a Lovehoney UK TV ad. And in 2011, the first pre-watershed advert for sex toys was pulled by ITV. The 30-second advertisement featured a fully-clothed couple kissing before leaving for work.

With additional reporting from PA.

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