The Trojan Man is making a comeback. Two decades after he first emerged as a disembodied gloved hand, the icon of the world's leading condom has been reformatted for the age of Tinder and fluid sexual preferences in 72andSunny's first work for the Church & Dwight Co. brand.
The new man behind the glove looks like Richard Simmons' laid-back younger cousin. He's into chimes, flowing robes and vaguely Eastern imagery. PR shop Edelman bills him as a "sex-positive, modern guy who is open to anything, but always has an eye on protection."
In digital and TV commercials, Trojan Man also will be "an advocate offering advice on today's complex and fluid landscape of desires, identity and emotions," according to Edelman.
In one ad, Trojan Man uses a creamy/crunchy peanut-butter metaphor to explain his ambivalence about attraction to men and women. "Sex is the sandwich, and you can put whatever you want on it, as long as you put one of these on," he says, pointing to a Trojan.
Trojan has data-driven reasons for all this, including 1.6 million cases of chlamydia in the U.S. last year, up 4.7 percent since 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 1996, when Trojan Man first came on the scene, the U.S. had made substantial progress reducing chlamydia among women ages 15-to-44 in much of the country over the prior decade – though this was due more to large-scale prevention efforts, according to the CDC, than the man behind the glove.
The new Trojan Man also represents a world where 27 percent of people ages 18-to-24 report use of dating apps and 31 percent of people under 30 describe themselves as something other than exclusively heterosexual, according to Edelman.
"It's a big sexy world," as the ads put it, and Trojan Man is here to encourage people to "explore with confidence."
"This isn't a resurrection of a character, like you see a lot of brands do," says 72andSunny Creative Director Nick Kaplan. "While we did want to tap into the equity and the fact that he was so connected to the brand, we needed to reimagine this character for today's world."
Kaplan was looking for someone "enigmatic" and "super modern."
"He's the opposite of toxic masculinity – open, not super macho," Kaplan says. "Most importantly, he's hilarious. He's ridiculous."
Yet Kaplan says he's also "non-traditionally attractive" and "has his own kind of charisma without taking himself too seriously."
But he needs to do some lifting. Condom sales in channels measured by Nielsen were down more than 2 percent on a dollar basis for the year ended July 14, according to data from Deutsche Bank, with Trojan dollar sales off more than 3 percent.