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When Pigheaded Networks Happen to Good Ads

Kelly Castagnaro

Trojan Condoms recently launched a new series of ads. "Evolve. Use a condom every time," is the tagline for the campaign. CBS and Fox have refused to air the ad.

Trojan Condoms recently launched a new series of ads. "Evolve. Use a condom every time," is the tagline for the campaign, which includes a website with information about safe sex and STIs, as well as advertisements on two networks, nine cable channels and eleven magazines. But, according to The New York Times, you won't see the ad on CBS or Fox.

The ad features women in a bar surrounded by talking, beer-swilling pigs. The pigs' advances are spurned left and right. After hobbling off to the restroom and purchasing a condom from a vending machine, one of the pigs is transformed into a good-looking man who then finally receives the attention of an attractive woman at the bar. It's an interesting take on the typical definition of "pig," and a much-needed and accessible statement about sexual responsibility and respect.

In a written statement, Fox said it had rejected the spot because "contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy." CBS declined, stating that it would not be "appropriate" for the network "even with late-night-only restrictions."

It's unclear what CBS found offensive about the advertisement, which, as a media critic rightly points out, is undeniably tamer than most prime time programming. Particularly for CBS, home to the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, the infamous 2004 Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction," and its new fall series "Swingtown," which brings viewers into the sexually liberated suburban key parties of the 1970s. The sexy two minute trailer opens with the tagline: "the year was 1976 and everything about America was changing." Apparently, while its programming is changing, the network has yet to evolve from that AIDS-free American era where skin was "in" and contraceptive advertising was taboo.

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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While CBS' criticism of the advertisement is pure hypocrisy, Fox's statement is nonsensical. There is nothing about the ad that implies that condoms should be used for pregnancy prevention and not health reasons. Nor is it clear when Fox became medically qualified to decide that pregnancy is no longer a health-related issue. The transformation of the pig into the handsome and clean man in itself illustrates a shift from poor to good health, from a slovenly existence to a responsible one.

The campaign's mission is about helping America evolve to a sexually healthy and responsible nation:

Sex itself isn't an unhealthy thing that needs to be policed or demonized; it's a natural expression of our humanity. Using protection consistently and correctly is a critical component to managing one's sexual health.

Citing the number of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies occurring in the United States each year, the campaign effectively argues that the use of condoms symbolizes respect, both for ourselves and our partners. The desire to forge positive and healthy sex lives is commonly capitalized on in television advertisements for erectile dysfunction drugs and personal lubricants, and it's time that we allow this desire to be personified through women, youth and a much broader audience than middle-aged men.

Trojan is right: we need to evolve to a sexually healthier nation. We need to teach young women to insist that men wear condoms and we need to teach young men that wearing a condom every time is the right thing to do. In a television world where casual sex abounds, the promotion of safe sex should never be censored.

Watch the Trojan ad below.

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