Trojan Rides Into Hollywood

Top condom brand more intent on entertainment

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% While the war against the AIDS pandemic doesn't hog headlines like it did in the 80s and 90s, the safer-sex message obviously remains a relevant and, hopefully, a resonant one in today's cluttered media environment.

And with sexual themes and situations a linchpin of all popular entertainment—be it TV, music, movies, magazines, video games—it should come as no surprise that Church & Dwight, the manufacturer of Trojan condoms, is poised to increase marketing through entertainment to reach its core 18-24-year-old target audience.

While this might excite the legions of branded entertainment practitioners from Gotham to Tinseltown on the prowl for new corporate clients, don't expect the floodgates to open. The stewards of the Trojan brand have always taken a methodical approach to product placement and other entertainment plays, which have often been orchestrated and negotiated on its behalf by New York-based product placement shop, AIM Productions.

According to Jim Daniels, senior marketing director of reproductive health at Princeton, N.J.-based Church & Dwight, which acquired the brand from Carter-Wallace in September 2001, the company's caution is well founded. "If you look at one of our Trojan packages, you'll see, in prominent positions, two claims. First, we're 'America's #1 condom' and secondly, we've been 'trusted for over 80 years.' So when you talk about the core of our brand, it really begins with trust."

Daniels, who took over on the brand last November, relies heavily on AIM president Patti Ganguzza and her team to ensure that Trojan's core equities of trust and quality are never compromised. "We have pretty clear guidelines working through AIM in terms of what is acceptable and what is not in terms of how our brand is used and represented. Because it's a medium for art, there must be a certain level of flexibility given to the producer. That's where AIM brings value to the equation. They do a good job of giving creative people direction," says Daniels. "There are many times we will pass up opportunities that would get a lot of eyeballs but that we feel is not appropriate to our precious equity."

According to Ganguzza, in the beginning the client was somewhat tentative about product placement in terms of the frequency of the placements. With rotating brand-management teams over the years, Ganguzza has seen Trojan's positioning strategy evolve as new teams have provided fresh perspectives and approaches. Similar to Kleenex and Xerox, Trojan has become synonymous with its product category.

"Since Trojan has been around as long as it has, we have more of a responsibility to the brand because it created and branded the category," explains Ganguzza. "When other competitors put their names out there, it's done to beat Trojan out of exposure. When Trojan does placements, it's more strategic, it's not just about putting the Trojan name out there. Everybody knows Trojan."

Package-goods companies tend to be conservative and Trojan is no different in that regard. "Some people have the impression that because it's Trojan, they like it loose, but it's not like that," insists Ganguzza.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% That's not to say that Daniels isn't willing to associate his brand with risqué content. One need to look no further than a recent episode of HBO's "Sex and the City" for evidence of that. The brand shows up in the middle of a scene where the randy Kim Cattrall character is having a steamy tryst with her latest conquest. Trojan wrappers are visible, including one stuck to her skin.

In fact, when you consider it wasn't until the mid-90s that the TV networks started accepting condom advertising, it's not surprising that the Trojan marketing team is being careful in its consideration of branded entertainment. Approximately $7.8 million was put against paid advertising, done by the brand's in-house agency, for Trojan for full year 2002.

Daniels has also left the door open for sponsorships or even the creation of a content vehicle (a la BMW Films) built around Trojan. "[It's] an interesting idea. Communications is evolving rapidly in that direction and we would be willing to consider that road, though, to date, we have no plans."

"A lot of our clients are looking at financing things. There was a day when they would never consider it; it just wasn't in their business model. That's why [NBC's]'The Restaurant' is amazing, because the entire production is funded by brands," offers Ganguzza.

Ganguzza likens scouting these opportunities to being a photographer. "You have to be aware and actively working to be in the right place at the right time, to get the right phone call and see the right presentation."

Ganguzza points to the U.S. Postal Service's support of the U.S. racing team for the Tour de France as an example of a reticent brand brilliantly picking its spots. "If you call [the postal service] to do a product placement deal, they won't call back." But the inherent logic of partnering with Lance Armstrong and co. was not lost on Uncle Sam's marketing mavens. "You see in the commercial Lance Armstrong and everyone in U.S. Postal jerseys riding through arduous conditions. It's a brilliant move."

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