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10 Ads We Won't See in the U.S.

A 'Book of Tens' End of the Year Roundup

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As we end 2006, Advertising Age takes a look across the world at some of the advertising work deemed, for one reason or another, to be of "Not for the U.S." status. These are all ads that American audiences are not intended to see.


#1 Durex Sex Ring
Durex became the first brand to advertise a sex toy for men on U.K. TV this year. As a couple have dinner, the woman finds what looks like a ring box on her plate. It starts vibrating when she picks it up, prompting her to smile lasciviously and say "I do." The tagline: "New Durex Play vibrator. The vibration ring for him to give pleasure to both of you." Durex wants to reposition itself from condom seller to mainstream player in the "sexual well-being" market, with sex toys on sale in supermarkets. The spot by McCann Erickson Barcelona is also airing in France and Italy.
#2 Naughty Boots
U.K. health and beauty retail giant Boots created an indulgently naughty, glamorous Christmas spot with agency Mother that appeals to Brits but would shock U.S. families expecting wholesome holiday fare. Gorgeous women perform the usual Yuletide chores while dressed to impress. A mother in a pink dress and big blonde hair drags home a Christmas tree. A stunning woman relaxes in a sumptuous bubble bath while peeling vegetables. The voiceover: "Christmas. A time for giving, receiving, shopping, chopping and stuffing. But most importantly, being drop-dead gorgeous."
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#3 Virgin's Casino Ads
Online gambling ads will never sully U.S. media schedules, but in Europe they are everywhere. Prevented by U.K. regulators from mentioning money, Virgin focuses instead on the inherent fun of its online casinos, and adopts the Virgin brand's usual stance as consumer champion. Unlike many European gaming sites, Virgin never targeted the U.S., so didn't lose half its business when new laws forced online casinos to stop taking bets from U.S. customers this year. Next year, U.K. deregulation will let online gaming sites solicit customers with promises of financial reward, so expect racier ads.


#4 Four Seasons Sex Gel Billboards
It's the gap between the two outdoor boards that makes this ad for lubricant gel Four Seasons so sexually explicit -- and controversial when it ran earlier this year in New Zealand. Each board on the opposite side of a highway features a woman's bare leg, with the open space of the highway in between. One of the boards includes a small product shot of the gel, sold by Australian Therapeutic Supplies. Strangely enough, the outdoor ads were done by the Beijing office of Grey Advertising.
#5 Chips for the Porno Star
It started as a racy spot and a play on the double-meaning in Italian of "chips"—a tasty snack, and slang for sleeping with a woman. Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi talks about the many chips he has enjoyed, sometimes three at a time. Religious groups got the spot pulled, but it was too late. Sales went up 27%. Blogs sprang up, a newspaper polled readers about the spot and found 76% thought it should air, and TV shows parodied the ad. After the public debate, Leo Burnett ran a new version with the same visuals, but no dialogue.


#6 Giant Airport Sushi
In the U.S., airport luggage carousels are for suitcases, but in Salzburg your bag may find itself next to giant sushi. Local restaurant Sushi King wanted to grab tourists visiting Austria for the 2006 Mozart festival. But Salzburg was full of the festival sponsor's messages, so Sushi King and FCB turned to the airport. Where do tired travelers have to go? Over-size sushi pieces were created and placed on the luggage conveyor belts. Sales rose 18% during the two-month campaign.
#7 Lux Provocateur Black Soap
Black soap hasn't come to the U.S. mass market yet, despite a lot of activity around color and design in the body wash category, with Axe's black bottles and yellow snake peel soap among the more exotic offerings. Outside the U.S., Unilever is extending Lux soap and its "Play with Beauty" strategy with Lux Provocateur Black soap. The launch spot by Santo, Buenos Aires, is a fairy tale with a twist about an innocent girl transformed into a sultry, black-clad temptress by a new black soap that brings out her dark beauty.


#8 The Brazilian Apprentice
It's not exactly an ad, but Wunderman Chairman-CEO Daniel Morel appeared on "O Aprendiz," the Brazilian version of "The Apprentice," which is hosted by Roberto Justus, the socialite adman who runs Young & Rubicam in Brazil. Every year the show's winner gets a job at a WPP Group company. Mr. Morel appeared on Brazilian TV to give this year's winner, Anselmo Martini, his prize—a job at Wunderman.

#9 Most Dangerous Snake
The "Dangerous Snakes" spot starts out as an innocuous slide show about different varieties of snakes in South Africa and how potentially lethal they are. Until the last "snake." The lecturer explains that it kills 1,000 people every day. This time the slide is of a penis. A title card reads "Beware the trouser snake." The spot by Network BBDO, Johannesburg, is for Vuka, an AIDS and HIV support center.
#10 Big Balls Cancer Check
The scenes in U.K. spot "Big Balls" would look like perfectly ordinary snippets of everyday life if all the men—shown at work, out jogging, practicing martial art -- didn't have two large scrotum-like sacks suspended between their legs. The commercial by Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, London, tells viewers "Make your balls a bigger part of your life." What they mean is, 99% of testicular cancer can be cured if detected early. Hence the warning "Check yours regularly."
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