This billboard for a sex toy is actually a message about women's empowerment.

People tend to think of Canada as a progressive oasis and for good reason: quality health care, beautiful environmental landscapes and a general attitude of inclusion and tolerance are all very Canadian things.

Of course, nobody is perfect and it turns out that Canada has some fairly regressive attitudes when it comes to women talking about sex in public. But one company has countered that narrative and is making a huge splash with their new billboard that contains an unmistakable message of female empowerment.

“You can use sex to sell anything, except if it’s women’s pleasure,” said Stephanie Keating, marketing manager at WOW Tech Group, in an interview with AdWeek.


Keating’s company worked with PinkCherry and design firm The Garden to promote their new vibrator, brilliantly called the “Womanizer” with a line of marketing text that has made international headlines: “Scream your own name.”

Much like in the U.S., Canada doesn’t have any explicit laws against advertising like this. But Keating says the unspoken rules most often result in such advertising campaigns getting turned down by major vendors.

In fact, the company claims that they’ve already set a North American record by having the billboard in place for just three weeks.

It has also already been nominated as one of the year’s best new advertisment, based in large part to the organic reaction from industry professionals and casual observers alike.

It's a major victory, especially when you consider that just getting the billboard up in the first place was a mountain many thought couldn’t be scaled.

“When you are in the business of promoting women’s sexual pleasure and all the benefits that go with that, you’re used to being rejected,” Keating told AdWeek. “We approach every media buy with trepidation, as we never know if our investment is going to see the light of day. Regardless of the medium—traditional, digital, social, podcasting—our ads have been censored even when they contain no explicit or suggestive content.”

At the same time, sex toys of all stripes are often given incredible amounts of free publicity, so long as they are targeted at and for men.

In 2016, Chile's Economy Minister Luis Felipe Cespedes got into hot water when he gleefully posed with a female sex doll after controversial comments comparing his country's economy to women saying both needed to be "stimulated" in order to be activated.

Photo by George Cadenas/Getty Images)

But because of the incredibly positive attention, the billboard has received, they’re already planning to extend the billboard’s ad buy into 2020 and the company says there are looking at other large scale advertising platforms to expand the Womanizer’s reach.

“We have always seen the value in this brand,” The Garden co-founder Shari Walczak told AdWeek.

“This is a company that believes in the importance of sexual wellness and empowerment for women, and the value of developing and maintaining intimacy between partners.”

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less