Trojan condoms has unveiled a new advertising campaign that both CBS and Fox networks have refused to air — apparently because pregnancy prevention is not a good enough reason to promote condom use.
Andrew Adam Newman writes in The New York Times:
Both had accepted Trojan’s previous campaign, which urged condom use because of the possibility that a partner might be H.I.V.-positive, perhaps unknowingly. A 2001 report about condom advertising by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that, “Some networks draw a strong line between messages about disease prevention — which may be allowed — and those about pregnancy prevention, which may be considered controversial for religious and moral reasons.”
Representatives for both Fox and CBS confirmed that they had refused the ads, but declined to comment further.
In a written response to Trojan, though, Fox said that it had rejected the spot because, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.”
In its rejection, CBS wrote, “while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions.”
“It’s so hypocritical for any network in this culture to go all puritanical on the subject of condom use when their programming is so salacious,” said Mark Crispin Miller, a media critic who teaches at New York University. “I mean, let’s get real here. Fox and CBS and all of them are in the business of nonstop soft porn, but God forbid we should use a condom in the pursuit of sexual pleasure.”
While Fox and CBS are being criticized for their decision, the commercial itself is drawing mixed reviews. Vanessa at Feministing writes:
So do I like the commercial? Not particularly, but I looked through the website of this new campaign Trojan is launching titled “Evolve,” and it definitely sounds like one I’d be willing to support: they discuss the misinformation that abstinence-only programs put forth about the inefficacy of condoms, the fact that often ideology is often promoted over real information, and their intent to put forth the message that “sex isn’t an unhealthy thing needs to be policed or demonized.”
And Tracy Clark-Flory writes at Broadsheet:
I was first alerted to the ad by a press release this morning from Planned Parenthood calling for the networks to reconsider their decision to block the spot. I was shocked to find that there’s plenty about the ad that actually offends my own sensibilities. For starters: The depiction of men as pigs. I can understand the idea behind it — that men who do not respect their partners enough to protect them from pregnancy or disease are pigs. But filling an entire bar with the nastiest of male stereotypes implies that almost all men are pigs. I’m also not too hot about the underlying message that men are solely responsible for condom use.
Ultimately, however, Clark-Flory concludes: “I have a hard time passionately defending the actual content of the ad — but I have a much harder time defending the networks’ reasons for blocking it.”
According to the NYT, the commercial will run on ABC, NBC and nine cable networks, including MTV, Comedy Central and Adult Swim, along with print ads in 11 magazines and promotions on seven websites.
The Times also provides a bit of condom history and market data:
The 87-year-old company placed its first ad in trade magazines for pharmacists in 1927, when druggists still kept condoms behind the counter. Though out in the aisles for decades, condoms are still purchased furtively: while the average time shopping for a home-pregnancy test is 2.5 minutes, the average condom buyer takes just 7 seconds, according to research by Trojan. “We call it a drive-by purchase,” Mr. Daniels said. “People to this day are embarrassed.”
In its new commercial, the word “Trojan” is never uttered, and the logo appears only briefly on the bathroom’s vending machine and at the end. But with what according to A. C. Nielsen Research is 75 percent of the condom market (Durex is second with 15 percent, LifeStyles third with 9 percent), [Jim Daniels, vice president for marketing], said the company was focusing less on growing market share than growing the market. The annual condom market is now $416 million, according to Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com.