My friend Jenna sent me a link to a great New York Times piece on a Trojan commercial that was rejected by Fox and CBS. In the commercial, anthropomorphized pigs fill a bar, talking on cell phones and hitting on women. One pig goes to the restroom, buys a condom, and promptly re-emerges as a handsome male, who then gets an inviting smile from a female bar patron.
“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.”
For the most part, condom manufacturers may be one of the best allies public health advocates have. The manufacturers goals of increasing usage falls right in line with the public health interest of decreasing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
“We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can’t use sex to sell condoms,” said Carol Carrozza, vice president of marketing for Ansell Healthcare, which makes LifeStyles condoms. “When you’re marketing condoms, something even remotely suggestive gets an overly analytical eye when it’s going before networks’ review boards.”
Sex sells, but you just can’t use it to sell safe sex. Sad.