M.A.L.I’s efforts to raise awareness on virginity testing by releasing a confusing commercial appears to have had the adverse effect on audiences.
M.A.L.I and advertising agency, TBWA/RAAD, released a new commercial on Sunday, 14 February 2020, as a way to raise awareness on the practice of virginity testing. The practice is still quite common in Morocco, despite possibly having a detrimental effect on the bride that has to endure the testing.
Speaking on the practice, The Stable noted, “The ritual is performed in Morocco and many countries across Middle East and North Africa to prove a woman’s ‘purity,’ basing her worth on a bloodstain. During the night of the wedding, guests wait outside the room for the virginity to be publicly proved after the first intercourse. Not bleeding can be life-threatening and might include physical and verbal abuse, shunning, divorce, rape, ‘honour killing’ and suicide, affecting the women’s fate, the fate of their family, their ‘honour’ and safety.”
Therefore, the bedsheets sold by M.A.L.I come with a book that informs the buyer of the harms of the practice of virginity testing. While the intention of the initiative is noble, the commercial failed to convey that message and, instead, seems to endorse the practice of virginity testing. The irony is that TBWA/RAAD prides itself in being “a radically open creative collective. We look at what everyone else is doing and strive to do something completely new.”
The commercial is a 45-second-long one which showcases the benefits of buying the virginity testing sheet. One of the benefits is that it can be hung as a mantelpiece after the test comes back positive.
The production value and stylistic choices used in the commercial are similar to those of luxury brands. This includes the music, the mis-en-scene, and the pace of the commercial. The commercial fails to adequately relay its purpose and the initiative behind it, more especially considering the closing line, which states, “Test your bride and buy your kit now.”
Watch the commercial below.