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Fertility startup banned from using the word ‘sperm’ in ads

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By Amy Houston | Reporter

April 26, 2022 | 3 min read

At-home fertility testing company Legacy says it has been banned from using the word ‘sperm’ in many of its US creative campaigns, despite it being the anatomically correct term.

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Legacy banned ad / Legacy

Its latest out-of-home project, which ties in with National Infertility Awareness Week, has been prohibited by NYC ferries and declined by several storefronts in the city.

Legacy said some of the rejected ads include messages reading: ‘Sperm quality decreases 60% from your 30s to your 50s.’

The team is working on a campaign that will be shown to locals in Austin, Texas. Messages that were approved had no mention of ‘sperm‘ at all, it said.

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In light of the censoring, the organization is more determined than ever to destigmatize conversations around fertility and is using the restricted ads as a conversation starter.

”When we‘re trying to talk about this medical issue publicly, we are prohibited from using the word ’sperm’ or variations of it,” noted Khaled Kteily, chief executive officer and founder of Legacy. ”We even get shut down for ’adult content’ if we use the word ’sperm’ or ’semen’ for Facebook, Google or Reddit ads.

”The advertising challenge was not just limited to words, either. Usage of visual elements of spermatozoa was restricted across many placements. Our advertising creative and media buy had to drastically change as a result of these restrictions.”

According to the company, one in seven couples suffer from infertility and 50% of those challenges come from the sperm in heterosexual couples. It’s an issue that needs to be honestly spoken about and this project aims to help remove the taboo.

Kteily concludes: ”Normalizing the conversation around fertility is more critical than ever. The fertility burden so often lies with the female partner and we want to help lift that burden by providing options to test, analyze and freeze sperm.”

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