Dame, the sexual wellness company that creates products for pleasure has finalized its settlement with The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”) to become the first female-founded pleasure product brand approved to advertise city-wide through the MTA. “Get In Touch With Yourself” marks Dame’s largest out-of-home brand awareness campaign to date.
In the legal complaint, which was filed by Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP with the US District Court of the Southern District of New York in June 2019, Dame alleged that the MTA’s rejection of Dame’s advertisements for sex toys was unconstitutional, including that the MTA had previously approved ads for dating services with suggestive images, the Museum of Sex, and men’s-focused sexual health products—specifically, products related to erectile dysfunction.
“Sexual pleasure is a critical part of wellbeing. Denying Dame advertising space stifles our ability to articulate the value we bring; to innovate and develop products for female sexual pleasure; and enforces sexual shame as a societal norm.” said Alexandra Fine, CEO of Dame. “The MTA was disproportionately applying their anti sexually-oriented business clause to women’s pleasure advertisements, which is unconstitutional. They allowed erectile dysfunction advertisements to run while denying us, making them a social and economic gate-keeper on who is entitled to pleasure. We’ve had to fight for our right to advertise and we believe this is a step forward in closing the pleasure gap.”
Dame had been in negotiations with the MTA since July 2018 on approving its ads. As a result of an amicable resolution to the lawsuit, Dame is launching an agreed-upon paid advertising campaign on MTA subway cars beginning in November 2021. The goal of the campaign is to continue Dame’s work in closing the pleasure gap, and to set a standard for other sexually oriented companies in advertising.
“The MTA allowed ads featuring phallic cacti and overtly sexual innuendo and imagery, but rejected Dame’s tasteful ads for pleasure products. Such disparate treatment is a textbook First Amendment violation,” said Emma L. Freeman, Attorney at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP. “This settlement furthers Dame’s mission to reduce widespread cultural stigma around pleasure for people with vulvas.”
For the MTA ad campaign, Dame leaned into abstract imagery and language to demonstrate how sexual experiences are healthy. To do this, Dame asked its community, ‘What does pleasure look like? What does it feel like?’ Through abstract graphics, the ads showcase pleasure destinations to form a transformative escape.