Monday, June 25, 2007

Marketing to Male Pigs – the Trojan Way

Trojan, the US condom producer, launched a marketing campaign “it’s time we evolve….interested?
In the campaign, men are portrayed as pigs– literally! (or may be hogs, it’s hard to tell).
The commercial shows bar filled with women and a bunch of bar-sitting pigs with cellphones. When one pig goes to the restroom and returns with a condom purchased at a vending machine, he is transformed into an attractive man.
The beautiful blond who had been indifferent now smiles at him.The end of the commercial carries the message: "Evolve: Use a condom every time."
Printed ads will appear in 11 magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Glamour, and on seven Web sites.

The campaign certainly created a nice little media storm.
For starters, Fox and CBS refused to air the commercials, while ABC, NBC, and nine cable networks (including (MTV, Comedy Central and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim) didn’t have a problem with it.
In its rejection letter to Trojan, Fox stated that the ad was rejected since “contractive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy."
CBS didn’t take such a moral high ground – it wrote to Trojan that the ad “wasn’t appropriate for the network, even with late-night only restrictions."

The brains behind the campaign is the Kaplan Thaler Group.
According to CEO Linda Kaplan Thaler, the humor in the ad is a way of “ getting consumers’ attention and opening up a serious conversation about sexually healthy lifestyles.
Some people may be initially surprised by the imagery, but we’re really using the pigs as a metaphor for selfish behavior to call to attention a very important subject

Trojan defended its campaign by stating:
Evolve is a wake-up call to change attitudes about using condoms and, on a larger scale, the way we think and talk about sexual health in this country.
Other than abstinence, the best way people can prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection is to use a condom every time they have sex.
Unfortunately, that’s just not happening today—single sexually-active Americans between the ages of 18 and 54 use them only about 25 percent of the time. We urgently need to foster healthier attitudes about sexual health and condom use

Mens News Daily labeled the campaign “male-degrading”, adding that it’s not surprising in a country that “gives round-the-clock media coverage of any rich blonde who drives her car while drunk ... or emerges from it without panties”. (Paris, Britney, and Lindsey – are you listening?).
The website goes on with the cry for “killing the Trojan pig” by boycotting Trojan condoms and protesting against ABC, NBC, and the nine cable networks that air the commercial.

From a marketing point of view, the commercial is excellent.
It created a lot of buzz, far more than a less controversial ad would have done.
The commercials are also done in good taste, and are entertaining as well.
They were directed by Phil Joanou (State of Grace).
Special effects were done by the Stan Winston Studio (Jurassic Park), since our porcine males are animated – no real livestock was used.
Lots of people viewed the strong reaction of Fox and CBS with bewilderment.
As Andrea Kalfoglou pointed out on Agora Vox:
the message is all about thinking about your own health and that of your partners everytime — a great public health message.”

Personally, I don’t understand the rejection of Fox and CBS.
Both networks are using sex in their marketing.
They place Viagra ads and broadcast shows such as Temptation Island.
Even if you don’t like the humor or are offended by men portrayed as pigs, there is no doubt that preventing airing it or calling for a boycott is not the way to go about it.
Ironically enough, Fox and CBS made the discussion of condom use far more accessible, since their ban gives people a nice opener.
In the mean time, Trojan got a lot of free publicity, which is good for their sales, their brandname and (hopefully) the health of sexually active adults.

In conclusion, we have stumbled on an interesting paradox here.
In the US, sex sells every product (from cars to cosmetics) – but not condoms…..

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