Church & Dwight Company, Inc.
Church & Dwight Company, Inc.
469 N. Harrison Street
Princeton, New Jersey 08543-5297
Telephone: (609) 683-5900
Fax: (609) 683-5900
Web site: www.trojancondoms.com
TROJAN MAN CAMPAIGN
Until 2001 Carter Products Division, a division of Carter-Wallace, Inc., owned the world's largest condom brand, Trojan. Although the condom industry had enjoyed an increase in profits in the late 1980s and early 1990s, by the mid-1990s growth had stagnated. Carter Products hoped to regain customers and to attract new consumers for its Trojan brand with a humorous marketing approach. Public discussion of condoms had been discouraged because the subjects of sex and contraception were considered taboo, but Carter Products believed a lighthearted advertising touch would break through these barriers and make condoms accessible and acceptable. Hoping to make using condoms "cool" and eventually increase sales, Carter Products released its "Trojan Man" campaign.
Created by Carter Products' longtime ad agency, Bates USA, Inc., the "Trojan Man" campaign started with radio commercials in 1996 and expanded into the television arena in 1998. The campaign was financed with Carter Products' estimated $7 million annual advertising budget. In the commercials a superhero-like spokesperson known as Trojan Man showed up during intimate moments between couples or friends to offer Trojan condoms. The spots ended with the tagline "Trojan. America's #1 Condom. Trusted for over 80 years." The "Trojan Man" campaign began as a brand-enhancing endeavor, but in 1997 Carter Products geared it toward the introduction of new condom products. After Carter Products sold its Trojan brand to Church & Dwight Co. (the maker of Arm & Hammer baking soda) in 2001, similarly themed print, radio, Internet, and television advertisements featuring the horse-riding Trojan Man appeared until 2005. Hoping to appease networks that would in turn grant Trojan more airtime, Church & Dwight stopped using "Trojan Man" in favor of a more reverent campaign titled "Make a Difference."
Trojan condoms accounted for 74 percent of the condom market by 2004, far surpassing the 50 percent market share it held in 1998. Ad critics praised "Trojan Man" for reshaping attitudes that once held condom commercials to be catalysts for promiscuity. Instead, critics argued, the American public began to consider condoms as an alternative to unprotected sex.
Condoms had existed since at least the sixteenth century, but even into the 1990s they were not thought to be a suitable topic for open conversation or for television commercials. In fact the National Comstock Law of 1873 made the sale of condoms for contraceptive purposes illegal and disallowed the distribution of information regarding birth control. Laws also stated that condoms could only be marketed as products designed to protect people from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Advertising condoms as birth control devices was forbidden up to the 1970s, and this created some complications for condom manufacturers who wished to advertise their products.
Even as laws became less stringent, the public was deemed unready for televised condom advertisements. In 1975 a local television station in San Jose, California, ran the first commercial advertising condoms, a spot that promoted Trojan brand condoms. The station received numerous disapproving calls, and as a result it conducted a public poll during the evening news broadcast. Although the majority of the viewers found the commercial acceptable, the station chose to cease airing the spots for fear of public backlash.
The role of the condom in American society shifted with the rise of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in the 1980s. A National Public Radio report noted that in 1987 the surgeon general endorsed the promotion of condoms when he declared on network television: "The threat of AIDS is so great that it overwhelms other considerations, and advertising, I think … is necessary in reference to condoms, and would have a positive public health benefit." Despite the surgeon general's statements, however, public service announcements televised on national networks in 1988 focused not on condoms but on increasing AIDS awareness. The networks still refused to air brand-specific condom commercials, but condom companies such as Carter Products did benefit from the publicity provided by AIDS-awareness campaigns. The Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands referred to findings by the Wall Street Journal that indicated 40 to 50 percent yearly growth in condom sales following the publication of the surgeon general's 1986 report declaring the usefulness of latex condoms in protecting people against HIV infection. The sales growth dropped considerably in the early 1990s, however, as American citizens grew weary of AIDS prevention messages.
Television networks continued to provide obstacles in the 1990s. When professional basketball player Magic Johnson publicly announced that he was HIV positive, Fox Broadcasting Company was the only national television network to reverse its policy against airing condom commercials. Carter Products took advantage of this policy change and created a spot focused on STD prevention, conforming to Fox's stipulation that the ads could not discuss contraception, only disease prevention. Other national television networks still considered advertising condoms too controversial. Entertainment Weekly in 1991 spoke with ABC's director of media relations, Janice Gretemeyer, who indicated, "We don't believe it's appropriate to take ads on controversial issues." NBC's manager of corporate communications, Richard Cutting, stated, "some segments of the public feel that advertising condoms would encourage promiscuity."
Carter Products and other condom manufacturers received a boost from the federal government when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attempted to counter the decline in condom sales with a marketing campaign in 1994 that promoted latex condoms as suitable protection against the AIDS virus. The initial 1988 CDC television ad campaign had not endorsed condom use because of pressure from political groups and television networks. The director for the CDC's national AIDS information and education program, Fred Kroger, in 1991 told Entertainment Weekly: "Many stations still won't accept them [public service announcements] if the focus is on condoms. It's one thing to talk about prevention, it's another to promote it." The CDC had thus created ads that described scientific facts regarding the disease, educating the public regarding the basics of AIDS. According to William DeYoung, a Harvard University health communications specialist who had worked with the CDC, the campaign's message had not gone far enough. He told National Public Radio that "once people are aware of the problem, they need to start thinking about how to deal with the problem, how to prevent the problem, and that's where the effort falls down." The 1994 campaign, on the other hand, openly discussed condoms and their effectiveness in providing protection against STDs, specifically HIV infection. The national networks had reservations, but most agreed to air the commercials during adult viewing hours.
The 1994 CDC advertising campaign may have set the stage for the loosening of network guidelines. More local television stations began allowing commercial condom advertisements, and in 1996 spots by Carter Products' competitor Ansell Consumer Products, the manufacturer of LifeStyles condoms, appeared on several network affiliate stations; the spots were limited to adult viewing hours or aired only after midnight. The rise of cable television stations such as MTV and Comedy Central provided a new arena for condom commercials as well. The major networks, however, still refused to show paid condom advertisements, and this in combination with network affiliate restrictions guaranteed the scarcity of televised condom spots.
Trojan brand condoms' target market first consisted of young males, including teenagers. Carter Products discovered that this target group generally shunned condom use because condoms were considered unacceptable and not "cool." In a National Public Radio report Thomas Coates, a professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, elaborated on reasons why some individuals did not use condoms: "We know that people don't use condoms because they are afraid of loss of sensation, we know that people don't use condoms because they're afraid their partners might object, they might think that they're loose or immoral or fast-living or in the fast lane. We know that women are reluctant to bring up condom use for fear that the man will reject her." Carter Products wished to address the concerns of its target group and change the negative perception of condoms.
By 1998 the campaign's target had expanded to include women. More female-centered styles of Trojan condoms had been made available since the campaign's launch in 1996. Richard Kline, vice president of marketing for Carter-Wallace, explained to Adweek (eastern edition) that women were beginning to purchase condoms. One spot that aired in 2001 featured two women chatting in a café. "I didn't sleep a wink," one boasted. Appearing off-camera, Trojan Man interrupted, "I guess everyone is enjoying new Extended Pleasure condoms from Trojan."
Carter Products was initially propelled by statistics concerning its core consumer market. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy reported in 1996: "One out of every three girls has had sexual intercourse by the age of 15, and one out of two by the age of 18"; in addition, "Three out of every four boys have had sexual intercourse by the age of 18." The American Social Health Association discovered in 1996 that "over 12 million people become infected with STDs … each year, with two-thirds occurring in people under the age of 25." Not only did Carter Products wish to reach consumers to increase sales, but the company also felt the need to educate them about STDs and pregnancy.
Carter Products chose to incorporate humor in the "Trojan Man" marketing campaign to maximize Trojan brand condoms' appeal and to influence its target market. The company's research had shown that humor appealed to teenagers and young adults and was ranked as the best approach for advertising. The "Trojan Man" campaign thus used humor to downplay the delicate nature of the subject matter, to attract the audience's attention, and to send a message about the importance of using condoms, particularly Trojan brand condoms. Carter Products hoped its target consumers would react positively to the campaign and that their perceptions regarding condoms would change—it wanted condom use to be considered not only responsible but also "cool."
In 1998 Carter Products manufactured deodorants, home pregnancy tests, hair-removal products, and tooth polish in addition to 23 varieties of condoms. According to the company, its Trojan brand condoms accounted for more than 50 percent of all retail sales of condoms in the United States and thus dominated the category. Carter Products' main U.S. competitors included Durex Consumer Products, a subsidiary of London International Group Plc (LIG) and manufacturer of Ramses, Sheik, Touch, Fourex, Avanti, Gold Circle Coin, and Saxon brand condoms; and Ansell, maker of LifeStyles brand condoms.
Carter Products ranked highest in U.S. sales and was second to LIG in the global condom market. The Market Share Reporter published data from Drug Topics Today that reported Trojan and Trojan-Enz condoms were the top contraceptive brands according to 1996 sales. The combined market share was 41.8 percent. LifeStyles condoms followed Carter Products with 10.5 percent, and Sheik had 5.2 percent. Also in Market Share Reporter a ranking of the best-selling condom brands in supermarkets taken from Supermarket Business indicated that Trojan and Trojan-Enz brands were the most popular. In 1996 Trojan brand condoms topped supermarket sales at 30.7 percent, followed by Trojan-Enz with 22.5 percent. LifeStyles came in a distant third with 14.1 percent, and Sheik Super possessed 4.6 percent of the market share.
WHERE ARE THE CONDOMS?
Condom sales were restricted to drugstores for many years. It was not until the 1990s that condoms began to appear for sale in supermarkets, vending machines, and discount stores. Condoms were also given away on high school and college campuses in conjunction with AIDS and STD awareness campaigns.
Carter Products' concerns when planning the "Trojan Man" campaign involved the stagnation in U.S. condom sales and consumers' lack of interest in using condoms. Education about the importance of using a condom appeared not to interest the public; the Dallas Morning News cited industry reports declaring the decline of condom sales among those aged 25 and younger. The director of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative, David Acosta, stated that educational programs had proved ineffective and explained: "The whole idea that knowledge equals practice is bogus … People may know all the right things. They know about seat belts. They know about cigarettes." Though Trojan brand condoms' core consumer group understood the repercussions of not using condoms, it was not enough to instigate habitual condom use. Unease discussing the subject and the belief that condoms decreased sexual pleasure added to the abandonment of condoms. Carter Products sought to address all of these issues with the humorous "Trojan Man" campaign and hoped to sway the male target group while also appealing to those new to the category and the female market as well. Capturing the loyalty of customers to ensure long-term consumption was also an objective.
To accomplish its goals Carter Products and its advertising agency of more than 50 years, Bates USA, decided to launch a national radio campaign to enhance Trojan condoms' brand identity. The first batch of radio spots, therefore, focused not on a particular style of condom but on the Trojan brand. The five 60-second spots produced throughout 1996 all ended with the tag-line "Be a Trojan Man. Help reduce the risk with Trojan. America's #1 condom. Trusted for over 80 years." The spots also stated, "more people trust Trojan condoms than all other brands combined," and "Trojan latex condoms help provide the protection you need and the sensitivity you demand."
In 1997 Carter Products shifted gears and produced two radio spots promoting a new product, Trojan Ultra Pleasure condoms. The 1996 campaign had established Trojan condoms' brand identity and introduced listeners to the comical Trojan Man character who appeared out of nowhere with his horse to provide Trojan brand condoms and straightforward advice. Laurel Dobalo, director of condom marketing for Carter Products, told Chain Drug Review, "The messages are serious, but conveyed in a way to appeal to young people." The new spots ended with a slightly different tagline: "New Trojan Ultra Pleasure. Trojan, America's #1 condom. Trusted for over 80 years." One spot, called "My Pleasure," took place in an apartment and featured a couple getting ready for an evening out. They became distracted by romantic possibilities but were interrupted suddenly by Trojan Man, who was introduced by singers in the background singing, "Trojan Man." The man asked, "Trojan Man, what brings you here?"; Trojan Man responded, "The stairs." Trojan Man provided the couple with Ultra Pleasure condoms and then departed. In the second spot, called "Sailor," Trojan Man interrupted a couple on a boat. The man recognized Trojan Man and asked, "Trojan Man. How'd you get here?"; Trojan Man answered, "Australian crawl. It's my fastest stroke." He continued, "I couldn't wait to tell you about new Trojan Ultra Pleasure latex condoms," and then explained the features of the condoms, not forgetting the important message about protection. Trojan Man and his horse then splashed into the water and swam away.
In addition to the radio campaign Carter Products launched an interactive website that provided free condoms, trivia games, product information, educational data regarding safe sex, and more. The company licensed the Trojan brand and began selling clothing and accessories that featured the Trojan name. Carter Products was also active in college and spring-break events and other promotional activities.
In August 1998 Carter Products released its first Trojan television commercials. One spot featured a couple enjoying a romantic dinner. When the man suggested that his date "share some chocolate mousse," she replied, "I'd share anything with you." The couple was abruptly interrupted by Trojan Man, who handed them a Trojan Shared Sensation condom and quipped, "It looks like you're pretty close to dessert." The second spot featured Trojan Man interrupting an intimate couple rowing a boat across a moonlit lake. The commercials marked a shift in the campaign because they targeted both men and women. "More and more women are also buying condoms to help provide protection in their intimate relationships," Kline of Carter-Wallace said to Adweek (eastern edition) in 1998.
Church & Dwight purchased the Trojan brand in 2001 and used the ad agency Bates Worldwide to continue the "Trojan Man" campaign. In July 2005 the company replaced the campaign with "Make a Difference," a more somber campaign created by the ad agency Kaplan Thaler Group to warn consumers about the consequences of unprotected sex. Church & Dwight hoped the different tone would convince large networks such as Fox, CBS, and NBC to air Trojan commercials earlier than 9:00 p.m.
The "Trojan Man" campaign met with positive results, according to Carter Products. Since 1996 Trojan brand's dollar market share rose more than six points to capture more than 60 percent of the U.S. condom market as measured by A.C. Nielsen. Carter Products referred to results of June 1998 Teen and Adult Omnibus studies that reported an improvement in Trojan brand's performance since 1996. Trojan brand awareness increased from 38 percent to 49 percent among adults and from 53 percent to 74 percent among teens. Gains in advertising awareness were even more impressive. Among adults who were aware of any category advertising, 45 percent recalled a Trojan ad in 1996 compared to 69 percent in 1998. In contrast only 9 percent of adults and 10 percent of teens recalled the advertising of the next most cited competitor.
"It can make a serious subject approachable," Kitty Ravenhall, senior vice president and management representative at Bates, told Adweek (western edition) in 2001. "[The Trojan Man] is a voice of authority and purveyor of a serious message, but he does it in a way that people can relate to." The campaign changed advertising trends across the condom industry. After "Trojan Man" debuted, condom makers' advertisements emphasized not only safety but also pleasure. In 1998, for instance, Durex released "Set Yourself Free," its first-ever campaign that did not caution consumers at all about unprotected sex.
During the campaign's last full year Trojan was not just leading the pack; it was setting a high-water mark for the industry. Trojan held an incredible 74 percent of the total condom market in 2004, surpassing the 50 percent market share it posted in 1998. Sales for Church & Dwight grew 8 percent in all channels in 2004, and Trojan sales generated $166.3 million in all outlets excluding Wal-Mart.
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