Image credit: iStock/Highwaystarz-Photography Image credit: iStock/Highwaystarz-Photography

An NHS trust has come under fire after using two adverts promoting free contraceptives during the summer holidays.

Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust had aimed the campaign at teenagers and young people and wanted to promote the fact that condoms are available via doctors' surgeries and clinics, while emergency contraception can also be taken effectively several hours after unprotected sex.

However, it wasn't the message behind the ads that was called into question, but rather the imagery and implications put into the posters, which were widely used on public transport.

The first showed an image of high heels and lipstick above an image of a dummy, with the caption: "Would you give up this for this?". Clearly, this implies that once motherhood arrives, any form of glamorous dressing goes out of the window.

Twitter reacted in a predictably explosive way, criticising the NHS for being out of touch and sexist in its portrayal of its target audience.

The posters even made their way onto TV panel show Loose Women, where the panellists fiercely debated whether or not the marketers behind them had got the message right.

However, the problems for the NHS didn't end there, as they went on to release another poster aimed at young men with a similar message about using contraception.

This time, though, the posters featured a picture of a games console controller and a dummy with the caption: "Bware [sic] da baby trap - use a condom."

This one attracted even more criticism, not least because their creators had apparently resorted to 'yoof speak' to get their message across. There was also the obvious issue that the posters implied young women are tricking their partners into fathering children, which did not sit well at all with equality campaigners.

Divisional director of midwifery, gynaecology and sexual health for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust Nicola Wenlock has now apologised for any offence the advertising campaign caused, adding: "Walsall Integrated Sexual Health worked hard to make sure the communication was relevant, effective and focused. The intent was to raise awareness of emergency contraception and advice available for those in this age group who wish to avoid unwanted pregnancies."

She also said the trust will continue to work with its audiences to ensure materials for future campaigns are closely reviewed.

However, they do say that all publicity is good publicity - and the fact that we're still talking about these ads probably means they achieved a wider reach than they were intended to in the first place.

If you're in need of any condoms, remember that you can get them at a great price via the condoms section of our website here.