Ad hero battles unsafe sex

August 13, 1991|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Evening Sun Staff

ALTHOUGH ONCE a hotly debated issue, and still largely missing from television, advertising for condoms has been running on young-adult-oriented radio stations in Baltimore and across the nation for more than a year.

In fact, Trojan Man, a superhero character featured in both broadcast and print ads for Trojan brand condoms, will be featured this fall on T-shirts offered to college students in campus magazines and newspapers.

"Initially, we thought there might be some concern" from the public about the Trojan Man campaign when it was launched in April 1990, says Mark Klein, vice president for marketing at for Carter-Wallace, Inc., manufacturer of the condoms. "But we really haven't had a problem."

Klein says the ads use parody and humor to project a serious message, because "kids respond to what they relate to, and you just can't have a 'just say no' campaign."

The campaign debuted with appearances at spring break in Daytona Beach, Fla., by the contraceptive character who wears golden armor with a red cape. In more than a dozen commercials, the character is in skits in which he urges people to be responsible by using condoms.

"Be a Trojan man!" is the refrain of one such pitch, and another urges listeners to, "Keep in touch with Trojans." A Gold Request Card for condoms, like a gold credit card, is also part of the Trojan Man print ad campaign.

"We have had no problem with it," says Jim Fox, general manager of WBSB-FM 104.3, which plays pop music geared to the 18-to-34 age group, and has run the ads for about a year. B-104 sales manager Howard Mazer says the Trojan Man ads have been played generally during late night and overnight hours and on Saturdays to little reaction.

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