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December 28, 2011

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Whisper it, this ad will make you blush

AN advertisement featuring a scantily clad young woman rolling about on a sofa with a "weird blue octopus" has sparked controversy on Shanghai's subway trains and buses for its sexual overtones.

In it, the woman whispers: "Awesome, only when you set..." with "the website as your homepage" as a subtitle, while the "weird blue octopus," believed to be the website's logo, sits on her head.

But many passengers said it sounded like she was saying: "Awesome, only when you ejaculate," as the Chinese word for "ejaculate" has the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for "set."

The advertisement ends with a close-up of the woman's face, who whispers gently: "So have you set...?" (the homepage), but many passengers think she's saying: "So, have you ejaculated?"

Another version of the advertisement features a different young woman with wet hair and wearing only a shirt who adopts some sexy poses and speaks the same dialogue.

The advertisements have sparked a wave of controversy online after they were repeatedly broadcast on televisions on trains and buses.


"I couldn't believe my eyes and ears when watching the advertisement and hearing the dialogue," said 24-year-old Liu Sen. "It's completely pornographic if you don't read the subtitles and I wonder how it got passed by the supervisors."

A 52-year-old woman surnamed Ni said: "It's a huge embarrassment. Some girls blushed when hearing the words."

She added: "The misunderstanding can be easily avoided if another Chinese word is picked to mean 'set,' but apparently the website company chooses to use the wordplay to get attention."

On, the advertisements got more than 10,000 clicks in two days, with some users saying that, despite public complaints, the website company had achieved a huge success.

"No matter how dirty it is, I learned the name of the website and I can't easily forget it," said one microblogger.

A company official, who was not named, told that they used the wordplay to make the public remember their website. Previously, the company said it was only people's "dirty minds" that led to the ads being misunderstood.

According to, the official promised to delete the sexual innuendo as the company was "under heavy pressure."

Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Bureau officials said they would investigate if there were more complaints. The bureau said companies were not required to get its permission before advertising on buses or trains, but they would supervise the ads after they were broadcast.


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