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Online Exclusive: Marketing News

TROJAN BREAKS FIRST PRIME-TIME CONDOM COMMERCIAL

TV Ad Pitches Health Benefits of Safe Sex to WB 'Smallville' Audience

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Church & Dwight Co.’s Trojan brand broke the first commercial in a serious-minded campaign that marks the first condom advertising on network broadcast prime time.
The new Trojan ad notes that 40% of the people who know they are HIV positive do not tell their partners.
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The campaign, the first for the brand from Publicis Groupe’s Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, since winning the account in March, looks at the serious consequences of not using condoms.

A couple cuddling
The initial 30-second spot shows white text superimposed on a black background claiming that “40% of people who are HIV-positive don’t tell their partners,” before cutting to a shot of a couple cuddling as they share what appears to be an iPod headset with the superimposed statement: “Other than abstinence, the only way to protect yourself is to use a condom every time.”

Subsequent ads will focus on other risks and “consumer segments,” Church & Dwight said in a statement.

'Saves lives'
“Our immediate instinct was that both men and women should be buying condoms, and the typical advertising for this category has been relegated to very male, locker-room humor,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO and chief creative officer of the agency. “It puts condoms in a category of something that’s merely a toy as opposed to something that saves lives.”

For its part, Trojan has quirky ads featuring Trojan Man and recently has launched products called Twisted Pleasure and Warm Sensations to foster a fun image. But Church & Dwight CEO James Craigie told analysts and investors in recent months the brand needs to also reach out with serious messages to the three out of four people who don’t wear condoms when they should.

Pitching acceptable advertising
“When we pitched the account, we pitched giving them advertising we felt would be acceptable on prime time [TV],” Ms. Thaler said. Previously, condom ads have run on cable and late-night network TV. “When we went into focus groups,” she said, “you would think all these guys and girls wanted to hear was locker-room humor, but they really responded to these messages.”

The first ad aired yesterday on WB’s Smallville after 9 p.m. will run on NBC’s Law and Order tonight after 10 p.m. Other broadcast networks either have not yet accepted the ad for prime time or have not been approached by Church & Dwight. WPP Group’s Maxus, New York, handles media planning and buying.

Conservative group
The conservative American Family Association last month asked members to urge senators and representatives to pressure networks not to run condom ads.

“It’s a shame the networks have crossed the line and dropped a long-standing tradition,” said Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the AFA. “Now that Church & Dwight has its foot in the door, it’s only a matter of time before the ads become more risqué.”

He said the group particularly objected to the ad airing on Smallville, a show geared toward teens. But he said other issues, such as a boycott of the Ford Motor Co. for supporting gay rights, are bigger concerns for the group right now.

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