Depicting guys as pigs, literally, the ads have reportedly been rejected by CBS and Fox because they are unwilling to run advertising about pregnancy-prevention products.
Jim Daniels, vice president of marketing at the Princeton, N.J.-based company, said Trojan would continue to negotiate with the two networks but has no plans to shelve or alter the ads, which he says have already been approved across a range of cable channels.
"Our target audience, sexually active young adults ages 18 to 34, watch both cable and network--and we believe we can reach them with this message effectively, but we would like to see all networks understand the importance of the message, and be part of getting the word out," he says.
The effort, via New York-based Kaplan Thaler Group, positions the condom as socially responsible gear for sexually active men--a proxy for moral responsibility around avoiding unwanted pregnancy--rather than as a conduit to carefree carnality, often the message around condoms.
While advertising offers a humorous take on Mr. Goodbar as a member of the pork family, the purpose, Daniels said, is to address the United States' standing as leading the Western world in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
"There are 3 million unintended pregnancies, 19 million STDs, 65 million Americans living with incurable STDs," he says--adding that until now, Trojan, despite its market share, has not been able to "crack the code" to getting more Americans to wear a condom."
"As a condom manufacturer, we view ourselves as a steward of public health. In our research, only one in four sex acts involves condom use, which is a very low rate versus the rest of the Western world. We realized we had to go back and reevaluate."
TV spots, which first aired last night, use animated images of pigs to represent the inconsiderate, boorish and libidinous behavior one might expect in a bar scene, except that one guy gets turned from porcine to person when he retires to the restroom area to buy a condom. The Trojan brand only appears on the condom dispenser.
The campaign also includes the Web site, www.trojanevolve.com, which delineates the salubrious benefits of safe sex. There's also print, and special events.
Daniels says the purpose of the ads is to confront barriers to condom use, such as embarrassment and negative imagery, and that the imagery of pigs as embodying irresponsibility and selfishness is intended to imply the opposite: that one should be embarrassed not to use a condom.
He says the other barrier--not directly addressed in the ad campaign, but elaborated on Trojan's Web site--is that condoms decrease sensitivity. "We have come out with a number of innovations making using condoms pleasurable; if we can chip away at these barriers we will increase condom use." Trojan, he says, has 75% of the condom market.
"The humor in the advertising spots is our way of getting consumers' attention and opening up a serious conversation about sexually healthy lifestyles," said Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO and chief creative officer, in a statement. "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."
Daniels, who says the Evolve campaign is the company's largest integrated, "holistic" effort ever, crosses the company's entire marketing mix from ads to consumer events, and will include in-store displays.
The company is also supporting the ad messages with a raft of events. The company each year hands out millions of condoms at concerts, events like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, various spring break venues, Gay Pride parade and conferences, and at concerts, Daniels said.