A jolly good British embarrassment

Philips now sell vibrators. They’re not willy-shaped, they don’t have rabbit ears and they’re definitely not double-ended, but they are vibrators. They’re for your bits, and they vibrate. Vibrators.

Sensibly, they’ve decided to market their product through mainstream media. Obviously there are certain things they can’t say or show without breaching obscenity laws. But Philips, come on. I’ve never seen a company selling part-stimulators that was so cringingly, unbearably embarrassed about it.

For starters, they’ve called them “Intimate Massagers”. What a horrible euphemism. The word “massager” has been used to mean vibrators, dildos and a whole array of rude things since time began, and everyone knows what it means. Everyone. Absolutely no-one is fooled by hastily thought-up excuses about sore shoulders. Secondly, intimate? Ugh. Painstaking euphemisms for sex always sound creepy, don’t they? Like they’re being dispensed in hushed tones by the wide-eyed vicar’s wife.

Anyway, Philips sell three of these things. One comes with candles, one has a bit for each of you, and one comes with a charging base to warm it up beforehand. Skipping over the hilarity of that – (“Darling, this ladypart caresserator is awfully cold” “Yes, I’m afraid I forgot to charge it”), this thing’s name is the Philips Warm Intimate Massager. I’ve never heard a product name that so successfully put the willies up me, so to speak. Warm. Intimate. Massager. Urrrgh.

There’s a press ad for the range in TheLondonPaper today, and this is the picture that goes with it:


Now, I realise that they couldn’t have the guy spreadeagled on the bed enjoying a good ball-wobbling, but really – his back? Come on. It’s a sex toy. Ann Summers manage to market their far more priapic apparatus in public places without issue. Why does it all have to be so whispered and hinted-at? It’s like they think the target market is a bunch of six-year-olds who giggle at the word “bum”.

The website is no better. If the publicness of their other ads was the cause of all the embarrassment, the website should be more explicit. But no. It’s full of phrases like “sensual lives” (has anyone ever, ever called it that?) and mentions that they’re “specially shaped to fit naturally in your hand, purring seductively” which worryingly suggests that the vibrator itself is trying to seduce me.

I’m all for sex toys, and even more for getting them into the public eye. But that’s so that they’ll become more acceptable and less embarrassing, and this campaign is doing exactly the reverse. It’s saying that if you’re going to buy one of these things, do it in private and for goodness’ sake don’t tell anyone what it’s for. “I use it on his back, like in the picture! I swear! I probably don’t even have a vagina!”

Philips, I’m never going to buy one of these things. Because I’m not entrusting my bits to a company who thinks “vibrator” is a dirty word.

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