There's a lot of buzz around the new marketing campaign for Trojan condoms -- especially concerning a new commercial that premieres tonight. But you won't find it on CBS or Fox; the networks have refused to air the spot. I went in search of a sneak peek of the commercial -- which is, of course, already available on the Trojan Web site -- to see what had so offended the networks' sensibilities.
The spot features a bunch of beer-swilling swine -- yes, we're talking livestock -- in a hip 20-something bar, surrounded by gorgeous but grossed-out women. One of the pigs tries to pick up a blonde at the bar, but she turns down her mud-covered companion's advances. (Was it something he said? Did he have something in his teeth?) Dejected, he heads to the bathroom and gets a Trojan condom from a dispenser. Immediately, he's transformed into a handsome real, live human being. When he returns to the bar, the blonde gives him an "I'm taking you home tonight" smile. The word "evolve" then appears on-screen.
Sigh. I was first alerted to the ad by a press release this morning from Planned Parenthood calling for the networks to reconsider their decision to block the spot. I was shocked to find that there's plenty about the ad that actually offends my own sensibilities. For starters: The depiction of men as pigs. I can understand the idea behind it -- that men who do not respect their partners enough to protect them from pregnancy or disease are pigs. But filling an entire bar with the nastiest of male stereotypes implies that almost all men are pigs. I'm also not too hot about the underlying message that men are solely responsible for condom use.
All that being said, the real reason Fox vetoed the ad leaves me nearly speechless: "Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy," read the network's written rejection of the spot. CBS merely said that it did not "find [the ad] appropriate." Today's Planned Parenthood press release offers the reminder that 50 percent of pregnancies nationwide are unintended. "Fox and CBS have a real opportunity to air a message about responsible sexual behavior and instead they seem to be falling back on puritanical standards that do not reflect today's society," said Joan Malin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York.
I have a hard time passionately defending the actual content of the ad -- but I have a much harder time defending the networks' reasons for blocking it.