If you hang out in the asexosphere, you've probably seen this ad, which is selling an emergency contraceptive called Plan B:
There are also video ads. I watched one, which didn't insult asexuals, but did make women look like complete idiots. (Apparently, another video ad does talk about "asexuals", but I had already lost enough brain cells.) Note that the colors of the ad are gray and purple. This is not a common color combination, but it is two of the colors on the asexual flag:
Coincidence? You be the judge, but in my opinion, it probably isn't one. Companies spend so much time and money on marketing-- I can't imagine that no one took 5 seconds to Google the word "asexual", which is a little-used word outside of biology texts and, well, asexuals. If they didn't know that "asexual" really applied to people, they would have put a dash in the word, like they did with "a-social".
In the past few days, I've read many comments from asexuals about the ads. Some people are offended, and some aren't. Some think it was an innocent mistake, and some people think that it wasn't so innocent. Some wrote letters to the company or left comments on Youtube, others didn't. Reading Sciatrix's post on getting angry and then seeing the overwhelmingly polite responses was very timely.
This is an interesting case because to my knowledge, this is the first corporate asexohater. And I don't like corporations for the most part, and I don't like advertisements. Sure, there are pockets of the corporate and advertising worlds that may not be morally bankrupt, but I doubt they are very large pockets. I don't think an ad campaign can "mean well", unless it's something like "Get an HIV test" or "Stop domestic violence". Every day, a new ad comes out that is sexist. If companies can offend feminists with impunity, why would they care about offending asexuals? If someone thought an ad saying, "Don't be like those tea-drinking tweed-wearers who don't experience sexual attraction" would make money, it would run tomorrow.
In this post, I used this quote:
"Brands can't be all things to all people. Effective marketing is the art of sacrifice..."
(Positioning Puts Branding in its Place, Hiebing)
Asexuals will be "sacrificed", if necessary. Do remember that this is emergency contraception, not Doctor Who memorabilia. We're not their target market, so the sacrifice is especially easy to make. (Yes, I know asexuals do have sex, but I doubt Teva knows or cares.)
In the 60's and 70's, people protested the government. In the current era, people need to protest corporations. Many corporations have bigger budgets than small countries. But they can live and die on the power of their brands. Maybe the ads will backfire, and Plan B will come to be associated with exceptionally air-headed people who don't know how babies are made (which is what the ads portray). Who knows?
So go ahead, be offended. They certainly don't care about offending you.