Libra In Gender Strife
SCA’s use of a transgender character in recent television and cinema advertising for Libra tampons has led to a backlash in New Zealand and Australia from people concerned about gender stereotyping. The commercial shows a drag queen (played by Sandee Crack) competing with a blonde woman in a night club rest room, putting on mascara and lip gloss, and adjusting her bra competitively. When the blonde pulls out a carton of tampons we’re provided with the tag line, “Libra Gets Girls”.
SCA has found that a commercial designed as humorous entertainment has set off an international debate with the potential to damage sales. Concerns raised include over simplification of what it means to be male or female, and a perceived swipe against transgender people.
SCA’s statement on the Libra Facebook page responded to concerns on both sides of the Tasman.
“Libra regrets any offence taken to our recent tampon advertisement. It was never intended to upset or offend anyone. Independent research was undertaken and the advertisement was viewed positively during that testing. Libra takes all feedback very seriously, and in response to this, we will immediately review our future position with this campaign based on the feedback received. There are no further advertisements scheduled in New Zealand. The advertisement has not aired in Australia. The advertisement was placed on Facebook however this has also been removed.”
Actor Sandee Crack wasn’t impressed with the news of the ad being pulled.
“My name is Sandee Crack. I am the drag queen that you have all seen in the Libra commercial that has been shot down by some of the transgender community. I would firstly like to state that I am in fact a gay man that dresses in drag as a performer. I have been doing so for many years and will continue to do so. I have never considered myself to be transgendered and never will do. When I was presented with the Libra commercial and saw it as a great opportunity to participate in a positive step towards acceptance for drag queens & gay men among the wider community. Libra were both sensitive, professional and accepting of my needs as a drag queen & as a gay man throughout the production process. I never felt for one moment that I would be depicted as a trans woman, nor do I believe that I have been. We consciously kept my arm hair, chose strapless dresses to accentuate my broad shoulders and if you look carefully you will notice my stubble is slightly visible. They also ensured I looked much taller than the girl next to me. I was shown the ad prior to release and I was thrilled with it. I have received enormous support from both transgendered, gay & straight individuals from all over the World since the ad was released in New Zealand. I believe strongly that by putting a drag queen into the mainstream media, we are one step closer to acceptance and this is something I am very proud to be part of. Unfortunately, a small portion of the trans community have chosen to view the ad as a personal attack on their fight to be viewed as equal women within society. This is a fight I also feel strongly about and I hope to help educate the wider community on. However, I feel hurt that representing myself as a drag queen on television and playing out a common place scenario in my life has lead to a clear “Dragphobia” among some transgendered individuals who wish to pull the plug on something that reflects true honesty about the life of a drag queen. A drag queen is a man in women’s clothing and if that offends a trans woman I am afraid I cannot apologise, as by doing so I am apologising for being me. I hope that the campaign goes to air in Australia, it would be an enormous step forward for Australia and for the world.”
The Libra campaign was developed at Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne.