‘These issues are complicated’: Facebook backtracks on decision to ban Modibodi period underwear ad

Facebook has backtracked on its decision to prevent period underwear brand Modibodi’s new ‘The new way to period’ campaign film from being served as an ad in users’ news feeds.

Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand director of brand, Naomi Shepherd, said the decision to reverse the ban followed another review.

“Encouraging open discussion about the issues Australian women face is important to me personally and to our values at Facebook,” she said.

“We know these issues are complicated, and our Sydney-based team has been working closely with Modibodi across the development of this campaign. After further review and consultation with our teams, we are pleased that Modibodi’s ads will now be shared across our platforms in their entirety.”

Facebook’s ban of the ad emerged earlier this week, revealing the ad had been reviewed three times and the platform had advised Modibodi to remove the scenes in which the colour red was used to represent menstrual blood.

The three scenes that use red to depict menstrual blood

The ad was said to have breached Facebook’s ad policy on ads depicting text or images that shock or focus on personal attributes of someone’s wellbeing.

Shepherd told Mumbrella on Wednesday: “When it comes to ads on Facebook we have a higher set of standards for what content can be included in an ad.”

The film was also posted on Modibodi’s Facebook page as organic content.

The ad ban caught the attention of trade and mainstream press, and attracted the ire of social media, with many ridiculing Facebook’s decision that the colour red was deemed too ‘sensational’ in an ad for period underwear.

Advertising veteran, Cindy Gallop, referenced Facebook’s recent controversy surrounding its refusal to ban hate speech in her critique of the Modibodi ban.

Modibodi’s CEO, Kristy Chong, said running the ad on Facebook in full will assist in the brand’s goal to “break down taboos”.

“As a company, we have always faced challenges head on, encouraging people to open up the conversation surrounding the issue, and ultimately, urging them to try Modibodi before making a judgement,” Chong said.

“We’re pleased to share that Facebook has reconsidered its position on our 60-second film, so we can continue our mission to open people’s minds by taking the stigma out of what is a perfectly natural bodily function for women.

“Australia needs organisations and media outlets like Facebook to help define a future where people can be proud of their bodies. We commend Facebook for taking this important step so that the next generation of women will feel empowered by their period, not ashamed,” she said.

The ad, created by Emotive, launched in mid-September across digital, social, pay TV and TV on demand. It is about to launch on free-to-air TV.

As of Wednesday, Mumbrella understands advertising self-regulating watchdog, Ad Standards, has received less than 30 complaints against the ad. The community panel case is expected to be released at the end of October.

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