Trojan takes health tack, eyes break into prime time

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Trojan condoms reached record sales and market share last year with products such as Warm Sensations and Twisted Pleasure. Now Church & Dwight Co. is trying a tamer approach to get condom ads aired in the family hour.

Surprisingly, it has the ear of big broadcasters, including CBS.

Trojan is copy testing ads created in-house that focus on prevention of sexually transmitted disease. C&D President-CEO James Craigie believes such ads are appropriate to air on network TV in any daypart. Networks are taking a wait-and-see approach, but aren't ruling out letting Trojan out of the late-night time slots to which it's been confined.

"The ads from Trojan are under consideration," said a spokesman for Viacom's CBS. "We need to see them before we make any decision about whether it's OK or not," said a spokeswoman for Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, but said there's no strict policy automatically barring condom ads from prime time or daytime.

Church & Dwight, which has been running humorous TV and radio ads featuring "Trojan Man" and double entendres in the wee hours, made a splash last year with an award-winning online viral campaign in Europe.

The tamer, health-focused ads aim to increase market presence in a new way, though Mr. Craigie vowed to retain Trojan's "holistic" campaign, including online ads, event marketing and product placement.

`a sad fact'

"One of the great things about this business, actually it's a very sad fact about this business, is condoms are only worn one out of four times that they should be worn," Mr. Craigie said. "Condoms are the only effective way to stop the spread of disease other than abstinence. Because of that, one out of four people under the age of 25 has a STD. ... If we could crack the code on that we could quadruple this business. And we intend to crack the code."

Church & Dwight plans to air the ads this spring at least in late night, but Mr. Craigie said he believes they'll be accepted "in all day parts."

"We remain somewhat skeptical," said Deutsche Bank Securities analyst Bill Schmitz in a report. He termed the new copy "dour" and noted the limited success of public-service announcement-style ads generally.

He sees more potential in ads that "successfully appealed to consumers' curiosity, sense of humor and desire to have fun" and Trojan's upcoming spring launch of Mint Tingle, which he termed "the latest buzz-generating product."

Church & Dwight, despite its reputation as a staid package-goods marketer, hasn't had any trouble building the Trojan business since acquiring it four years ago. Sales rose 8% in all channels as the brand added to its 70% market share last year, Mr. Craigie said, citing Information Resources Inc. data. IRI data puts Trojan sales at $166.3 million in outlets excluding Wal-Mart for the year ended Jan. 23.

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