6 Jul 2020

Pornography awareness ad reaches millions around the world

From The Detail, 5:00 am on 6 July 2020
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Photo: youtube screenshot

A New Zealand ad campaign that features two naked actors as porn stars has reached more than 22 million viewers around the world and is being retold in several languages.

It has also kicked off conversations about pornography online that everyone has been avoiding for decades.

And it all started in lockdown when record numbers of people were looking at porn. At the same time, the Classification Office released new research into New Zealand youth and pornography, and the ad agency Motion Sickness started working on a government-sponsored online safety campaign.

The Detail's Sharon Brettkelly talks to Hilary Ngan Kee from the agency about how the team came up with the idea of getting nude actors to knock on the door and tell a mum that her young son is watching them online.

"Quite early on we came up with the idea of: what would happen if they appeared on your doorstep, because that's essentially what is happening. They're coming into your home through a device," says Ngan Kee. 

And Kris Taylor, who has just finished a PhD at the University of Auckland on pornography addiction, tells The Detail why New Zealand is on the verge of a shift in the discussion about porn.

He says it’s too late to try to stop it or prevent young people seeing porn; "the cat is out of the bag".

"The access to the internet allows access to anything, young people have more access to phones (and other devices) so they can view whatever they like. They do understand that pornography isn't real but at the same time they lack any other information about sex," he says.

That's backed up the Classification Office's new research report ‘Growing up with Porn - Insights from Young New Zealanders’, released in April, the third of a series. 

It shows that porn is often the first sexual experience for girls and boys, porn can be bad for body image and confidence, and it can negatively influence sex.

Young people want information about porn included in sex education and they all agree that children shouldn't have access to porn.

"Anyone who has a perspective on pornography …. we can all agree that it is a terrible sex educator," Taylor says. The problem is, as highlighted by the study, children and adults aren't talking about it.

"There is problematic content out there that they can view, obviously, but lots of them are able to avoid that content," he says.

But they are making the distinctions in a vacuum without any other input.

"There's very few avenues through which to discuss it or to make sense of it beyond perhaps your peer groups," says Taylor.

He says that can change by introducing "pornography-integrated sex education" at a young age and by giving teenagers a chance to talk about sex, sexuality and pornography. "They will go for it" but teachers and parents have to get more comfortable with a topic that has been taboo for decades.

The funny but shocking porn stars ad is a "fantastic starting point", says Taylor, but the discussion has to go much deeper.

Parents who want help with bringing up the subject with their children can go to keepitrealonline.govt.nz.