Look, I know you don’t need to hear MY take on condoms since I’m out of the condom game but I do this for my culture. I was watching commercials during VH1’s Hip Hop Honors show last night because it wasn’t something I recorded and I couldn’t fast forward through commercial breaks. I noticed that there were quite a few ads for Trojan condoms during the show. While I don’t doubt that condoms are making a lot of money these days I think they could do better. These ads just didn’t seem to hit home with me. However there was a particular advertiser that seemed to grab my attention every time I saw their commercial.
Have you seen the anti-smoking commercial for “Glass Pops”? It’s by the people at truth.com. They always have a way of shocking or amusing the viewer with their campaigns. I remember all of their ads over the years but I can’t say the same for condom commercials.  Why is that? I don’t think I’m alone in feeling a lack of impact from condom commercials. Here is where I think they are going wrong.
1.       Condom ads seem to be selling the wrong thing. They are concentrating on selling safer sex. While that seems like a good idea it really doesn’t appeal to people. Look around you. Everyone and everything is selling sex. Not safe sex. Just sex. It’s easy to see how the viewing public has become desensitized to images of implied sexual contact. Telling me how something is “ribbed for her pleasure” is like convincing me to buy a car because the color is cherry red. You’re burying the lead here.
2.       These ads are almost exclusively targeted towards men. Yet, men are probably less likely to think with their brain when it’s time to get down to the “get down”. These ads need to target women since they are more likely to raise the question of, “do you have protection” as a matter of self preservation. Who is more likely to understand the burden of carrying and raising a child for the rest of their lives? Dudes walk away from children every day B. Right now there are thousands of kids being disappointed by their father not showing up for their birthday again this year.
Okay so now you’re asking, “Well what are they supposed to be doing then?” Good question, reader.  What condoms are really selling you is protection. They are selling protection against disease, pregnancy and cost. That’s right. Cost. Would you rather spend a few bucks on latex or thousands on pampers? Still, I never see these things illustrated in their ads and that’s why they never seem to hit home with me. Now I’m not saying you have to go full “HIV positive” ads in your commercial. The idea of an advertisement isn’t to completely bum people out but it should shock people awake.
Here are a couple of commercials I came up with while brainstorming with @Bomani_Jones from The Morning Jones radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio:
A.      It’s the end of a date and a female is telling her date, “Do you want to come in?” You show a steamy scene with the cliché “making out and kicking the apartment door closed with your foot” move. A couple lands on a bed and then the scene fades to black. Now it’s morning time. The apartment is no longer dark and seductive. The man wakes up in bed alone. He looks around the brightly sunlit apartment to see dirty clothes on the floor. A bunch of close up flash shots pan to the following:
·         There’s a hair brush with stands of hair still in the bristle.
·         A mangy looking dog growls at him.
·         There is dust all over the wooden furniture
·         There are used Kleenex laying on the floor
·         An ash tray full of ashes sits on the coffee table
·         Dirty dishes in the kitchen sink
·         Overflowing waste baskets
The guy is suddenly sitting up in bed with the clutching the covers t his chest as he looks shocked to find himself in disgusting circumstances. Suddenly you hear raspy coughing coming from the bathroom after the toilet flushes. Our comes the mysterious one night stand from last night not looking nearly as good without make up and wearing a loose fitting stained t-shirt. She touches his face and says, “Good morning sleepy head!” Our protagonist flinches away from her touch and ask, “Did you wash your hands?”
Cut to the Trojan logo.
B.      This is a simple advertisement. There is a guy sitting in a living room by himself. There is a 20 second montage of him trying to distract himself while stressing out. He tries reading a magazine but quickly puts it down, he turns the TV on and quickly turns it back off, he cradles his head in both of his hands, he bites his finger nails and he pace around the couch. Finally you hear the bathroom door open and a woman walks out. There are a couple of seconds of silence before she says, “I’m pregnant.”
The man doesn’t smile. He looks worried and sort of sad. A couple more silent seconds pass and then he finally ask, “So what you gone do?”
Cut to the Trojan logo.
C.      This is the simplest and cheapest ad of all. You just show a bunch of figures for the average cost of raising a child. Keep adding the numbers on and showing how expensive it can be over a 22 year period including college years. Meanwhile the background is a man’s face getting old and grayer. Then when the total is reached you juxtapose that with the cost of a pack of condoms and begin rewinding the age off the man’s face.
Cut to the Trojan logo.
Now I don’t know if someone has thought of all of these before or not but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen any of these commercials before. Wouldn’t this work? Wouldn’t this hit home in your subconscious? These are the real fears of people who use condoms. This is the real motivation. It’s not about “for her pleasure” it’s for your peace of mind right? It’s the thought of former friends who can’t ever get out of the house any more. It’s the thought of child support being taken out of your check before you even see it. It’s the fear of disease. We are grown up enough to talk about this now right? The commercials don’t even air until late night any way.
So if you know someone who works for an advertising company or is in the marketing department for Trojan can you have them call me? Thanks.
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