New Campaign Shows Shift in Sex Ed

Published 07 July 2020

Charlotte Rickards

In June, the New Zealand government launched an ad campaign engaging with pornography directly to encourage open conversation between parents and children. The campaign chimes with emerging sex education trends we’ve been tracking that champion consent, advocate open dialogue, and promote online safety. 

New Campaign Shows Shift in Sex Ed

The ad, part of the Keep it Real Online campaign, features two naked actors as pornstars telling a mother that her son just looked them up online.The pair explain that they “usually perform for adults, but your son’s just a kid [and] might not know how relationships actually work”.  

The ad also highlights how traditional porn rarely mentions consent, with the female actress saying: “We don’t even talk about consent, do we? No, we just get straight to it.” The clip concludes with the mother starting a frank conversation with her son, emphasising the importance for parents to engage with the crucial – if embarrassing­ – subject of porn and realistic sexual relationships. 

This campaign reflects the need for sex education to address the easy access children have to porn online. Last year, a UK survey for the BBC Three documentary series Porn Laid Bare found that porn was the main source of sex education for 55% of men and 34% of women (BBC Three, 2019). 

Keep it Real Online chimes with the demand for modern sex education initiatives that we highlighted in Let’s Talk About Sex, part of our 10 Teen Causes to Watch report. There’s a rich opportunity for brands to step into this space and provide consumer-centric and accessible sex education. 

They could collaborate with influencers such as YouTuber Hannah Witton, who receives up to 80 million views for her upbeat informal sex ed lessons. Or take a leaf from Gucci, which became the exclusive sponsor of Los Angeles-based podcast The Sex Ed this April. But brands shouldn’t just limit these topics to younger consumers, as there is interest among adults too: the recently compiled Ted Talk playlist, Sex Ed for Adults, is gaining traction with older audiences.

For more insight on how brands can support consumers as they navigate sex education, see Full-Spectrum Sex Education in Decoding Childhood in Flux and Brands Need to Talk About Sex.