Trojan Evolve

Trojan Evolve

“8 per day…
4 for you.
4 for your partner.
40 each week.
Not enough? Maybe you should go to the library or I don’t know maybe you could study or even take a nap…”

This was part of my Wellness Center spiel during each first year student orientation at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Wellness Center provided free condoms for UIC students. I think we gave out more than 20,000 in 2003. Trojans, LifeStyles, and Durex were our usual fare. Handing out condoms was just a tiny part of the sexual wellness education that came out of the Wellness Center. However, our free condom program was probably the most publicized piece of our sexual wellness educational efforts.

Our data at the time told us that more than half of all incoming UIC students were sexually active. Gay, bi, queer, straight, etc., our students were having sex. We provided free condoms, oral dams, and lube. It was our hope that students who were having sex were at least having safer sex. We hoped to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) for all students who were sexually active as well as unplanned pregnancy for heterosexual students.

Frequent commenter, Michele Marie, sent me a link to a new Trojan Condom advertising campaign called “Trojan Evolve.” The campaign seeks to reframe the way people in the U.S. think and talk about sex and sexual health. I think it’s a brilliant promotion. It’s educational and fun. I realize that Trojan’s primary modus operandi is to sell a product. However, they could simply focus on selling versus actually being intentional about a sexual health message that could actually work towards preventing sexually transmitted infections and unplanned/unwanted pregnancies.

According to Trojan:

Using humorous and sometimes pointed imagery, we hope we’ll get men and women thinking about worthiness, self-care, and trust: Does my partner care enough about me, or do I care enough about myself, to use a condom? “Evolve” isn’t about encouraging people to have sex. It’s about making the sex people are having healthier and more enjoyable.

Trojan’s message is straightforward: the use of condoms is a positive signal of personal responsibility and an expression of respect and consideration for one another. We want society to see protection and preparedness as a way to make sex healthier, more meaningful, and ultimately more enjoyable. Sharing equally in the decision to use
condoms puts men and women on more equal terms for both pleasure and responsibility.

The television commercials for Trojan’s Evolve campaign feature “anthropomorphized, cellphone-toting pigs.” The pigs apparently represent men who have not thought very much about their sexual wellness or their partners. One pig shuffles to the restroom where he retrieves a Trojan condom from a vending machine. He is immediately transformed into a well-dressed man among a sea of pigs. The moral of the commercial: Heterosexual men who think about sexual wellness are much sexier than those who do not.

Fox and CBS have refused to air the commercial. According to Fox, “contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.” 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.”

Unbelievable. Fox apparently has quite the overt agenda when it comes to condom advertising. Apparently Fox prefers the promotion of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. CBS wins the hypocritical award for television networks who apparently have a) never watched their own programming and b) not watched the Trojan ad because everyone is fully clothed, sex is never mentioned, and Trojan is only seen in print.

I wish that Trojan had created a commercial for gay men. Unfortunately, I guess heterosexism prevails in this situation. I wonder if CBS and Fox would allow a Trojan Evolve commercial for gay men? The focus would be on health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy…

The current commercial will run on ABC, NBC and 9 cable networks.