Um Seriously…? Pussy Natural Energy: Genius or Just Plain Gross?

pussy natural energy

Billionaire Richard Branson’s energy drink ‘Pussy Natural Energy’ has received hundreds of complaints in the UK. I wonder why.

According to FoodNavigator.com, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency has sided with consumers in four of six issues filed against Branson’s Pussy Natural Energy including complaints about posters and marketing on the website of the product.

Marketers—particularly in the energy, soft drink and alcohol categories—have always used sex to sell products. Some efforts have been way more blatant than others, but the use of the word “pussy” in a product name takes things to a whole new…bubble.

Complaints have alleged that the ads are offensive because of the overt sexual implications. According to Food Navigator, the complaints against Pussy Natural Energy also include: derogatory, sexist and degrading to women; offending religious beliefs (poster near a church); unsuitable to be viewed by children.

“P-U-S-S-Y” is spelled out in large bold text in advertisements all across the UK with subtext reading: “The drink’s pure, it’s your mind that’s the problem.”  In some cases, the ads claim to be seeking distribution, stating: “Our goal is global pussyfication, and we aim to bring Pussy within everyone’s reach.”

The brand claims it’s done nothing offensive because the Oxford English Dictionary defines “pussy” as a feline animal. So, apparently, they’re not just huge jerks, they’re sarcastic pricks, too.

There’s no question, the gimmick is both an achievement and a huge failure, much like energy drinks themselves. The truth is, we all know it’s easy to find ways to boost your energy safely and naturally. Yet we allow ourselves to be seduced by sleek cans and clever marketing campaigns, despite the deaths and illnesses connected with caffeinated energy products. We’re even willing to suspend our disbelief for a moment and imagine a world of “global pussyfication.”

I suppose there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of fantasy, or carbonation, for that matter. Maybe the real question is whether or not we’re being preyed upon by products like Pussy Natural Energy or we’re invoking them into being in the first place. As consumers, do we really even know what we want? Does it come in a can?

What’s difficult about situations like this is on one hand, there are a few things to applaud: an idea like this, no matter how heinous, is still pretty darn creative. Our world needs as much genuine creativity as we can produce. And, it’s bold; knowing there would be a huge backlash, the company was willing to do it anyway. We need more of that type of fearlessness towards life as well.

But on the other hand, where is the line, exactly?

Is it in being comfortable knowing that no matter how playful or sarcastic the gimmick intended to be, that it will inevitably offend a lot of people, and doing it anyway?

Is it knowing that women and men battle with their sexuality, their gender roles and just how difficult it is to reconcile those struggles, but adding to the objectification of women anyway?

Is it in knowing that yet another highly caffeinated, sugary energy drink on the market will inevitably wind up in the hands of reckless teenagers, potentially hurting or even killing them, and doing it anyway?

Or, perhaps, is it lacking the ability to treat people as more than just gullible dollar signs despite knowing (even if only deep down inside) that we’re capable of doing a whole lot of voting with those dollars, and attempting to take our money under ridiculous pretenses anyway?

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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