No Bad Buzz for Trojan Vibrator TV Ad

Sep 28, 2010 12:00 PM PST
NEW YORK — A recent TV ad for condom giant Trojan’s Tri-Phoria vibrator has not caused the mainstream controversy normally expected from a sex product.

Contrary to the industry norm that relegates sex products to late night slots, the Tr-Phoria ads have been approved to air on cable TV networks including Comedy Central, VH1 and Spike during the day and early evening without any backlash.

In fact, one spot has been running during the day since early September on Comedy Central, appearing during “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” and “South Park.”

Kierie Courtney, senior manager of direct response marketing at Church & Dwight, which owns the Trojan brand said that cable networks usually restrict these types of commercials to about five hours after midnight as was the case with Trojan’s smaller Mini vibrator ads that ran in 2009.

But for Tri-Phoria — which sells for $40 — the ads have been created to be less suggestive and show neither the product nor use the word “vibrator” that's resulted in an increase in the average air time to 11 hours.

“One of our key goals was around the acceptance and mainstreaming of the product category,” Courtney said.

Brian Fays, executive vice president for advertising at MTV, which is owned by Viacom (also owner of Comedy Central and Spike), lauded Trojan’s marketing approach, “No matter how liberal you are, a little kid doesn’t need to hear the word ‘vibrator'."

But he added, “At first there was a certain amount of trepidation that maybe the viewing public wasn’t prepared to see a commercial with vibrators and we automatically put it in the overnight slot but we opened it up because, instead of it being taboo, they got their point across subtly.”

MTV permitted the Tri-Phoria spot to run only between 3:30 a.m. and 6 a.m because of its younger demographic, but Fays said if the commercial doesn’t make waves during earlier slots on other Viacom networks, MTV may also shift it to earlier time slots.

The new commercial, produced by Sullivan Productions of Tampa, Fla., calls the product a “personal massager” and it plays on the common pharmaceutical commercial tag lines saying, “Side effects of Tri-Phoria may include screams of ecstasy, curled toes, a sudden glow and intense waves of pleasure.”

Trojan said it has spent millions on the new campaign that represents the largest amount ever spent on a vibrator.

Trojan’s vice president for marketing Jim Daniels said the restrained approach of the ad on cable networks could help in gaining approval for the commercials on the major broadcast networks.

“Our goal is with facts and experience on our side to approach networks for approval, possibly in the early part of next year,” Daniels said.

Although Tri-Phoria is available only on the company’s website, it's expected to be on the shelves of major retailers like CVS, Walgreen's and Wal-Mart beginning in the first half of 2011.

Daniels said, “This is right in Trojan’s wheelhouse. We think we’re creating a good buzz — pun intended — and we think consumers will be happy with the products we’re offering.”

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