Two major consumer packaged goods companies are taking heat for advertising some brands on the Pornhub website that features videos of sex acts.
Unilever’s Dollar Shave Club and Kraft Heinz created ads for the site that are now discontinued, according to a report by The Sunday Times of London picked up by other media outlets.
The Shave Club banner ad, run earlier this year, said, "If you use our bathroom products, you won’t have to visit this site as much." Though it is mainly known for its mail-order razor and blades, Shave Club also sells a variety of men’s grooming lotions and wipes, including One Wipe Charlies, which the company frankly describes as “butt wipes.”
The Kraft Heinz ad, from February, was for a frozen entree brand it owns called Devour. To promote it, Kraft Heinz took over the Pornhub home page for a one-day #FoodPorn promotion. On Pornhub, Devour teased, “See hot food porn now.”
The takeover was part of a broader promotion that included a suggestive Devour Super Bowl ad about a wife lamenting her husband’s addiction to frozen food, depicted with scenes that made it seem as if she were really talking about an addiction to porn.
“The brand was explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon on Instagram,” a Kraft Heinz spokesman told The Sunday Times.
The newspaper investigated whether Pornhub has videos of sex acts being performed by people under the age of 18. It easily found examples despite the site’s prohibition of under-age depictions.
The site says it removes such videos promptly when it finds them or is alerted to them, but the Times said it discovered some videos that had been on the site for more than three years and accumulated 350,000 views.
Though the Dollar Shave Club ads may have been news to the general public, an executive freely discussed them in May with the Australian advertising and marketing site Mi3
In an interview, Matt Knapp, the Dollar Shave Club’s executive creative director, spoke extensively about why it was advertising on Pornhub. “So, it’s not expensive. But interestingly, the exposure that you can get and the impressions are huge,” he said. “It’s no secret that guys go there. We turn up where guys are going to be.”
He told Mi3 the ads attracted customers and were timed just right, because they ran out shortly after Gillette premiered its controversial “toxic manhood’ commercial.
Knapp said Dollar Shave Club would use Pornhub again.
But then again, maybe not. “This type of content is deeply troubling and we will ensure that none of our brands advertise on Pornhub again, or on any other porn sites,” a Unilever spokeswoman told the Times. She said Dollar Shave Club works independently of its parent firm and that Unilever wasn’t aware of the ads. Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion in 2016.
Unilever, particularly, might find the Times article awkward. It has increasingly attempted to position its products to have a socially aware involvement that may not fit with advertising on a porn site.
CBNC also reports Unilever is a member of the “Unstereotype Alliance,” a group of advertisers that aims to “eradicate outdated stereotypes in advertising.”
In the Times, a few British government officials called for an investigation. Tom Farr, of Cease UK, an organization that fights sex exploitation, said the ad deals gave Pornhub “a sheen of respectability and this image that they’re a family-friendly company, which is absolutely absurd.”