Monday, July 16, 2012

Selling Condoms

I was recently reading with the TV on, not really paying attention to the set, when I glanced up to notice some kind of commercial with Rachel Bilson for a product known as 'Magnum.'  Wtf?  Magnum?  Magnum Condoms?!  Rachel Bilson is starring in an ad for Magnum Condoms?!  What the what?  Has she blown through her O.C. money that quickly?

Anyway, turns out it wasn't an ad for Magnum Condoms but rather for Magnum ice cream bars.  That made somewhat more sense, though "Karl Lagerfeld shooting artsy short films to promote an ice cream company" sounds like it should be an SNL sketch.  Not to mention that MAGNUM is a somewhat incongruous name for ice cream.  It's like one of those generic Apprentice team names that then gets attached to every product they promote, no matter how ill-fitting it sounds.  ("Check out our cutting-edge line of child-care products, Magnum Baby Wipes!")

The most I think about it, though, Magnum and other condom companies may be missing a trick.  I'm no expert on the history of condom advertising, but have they thought about entering the realm of the celebrity endorsement?  I'm not talking about a generic PSA from the early 1990's where the guy who played Dwayne Wayne on A Different World tells people to wear condoms for safety reasons.  No, I'm talking about a straight-up, "Hey folks, this is so-and-so.  I sure so enjoy Magnum Condoms when I'm making love, and I think you would too!" kind of ad.  By the way, that little turn at copywriting is why I never got into the advertising business.  Peggy Olson, I ain't.

Aside from religious convictions, probably the biggest reasons people don't use condoms are a) complaints about the feel, b) laziness and c) related to laziness, just the simple fact that folks don't want to spoil the romantic mood by halting everything to find a rubber.  I'm not saying attaching a famous face to a condom campaign would solve all these issues, but let's break them down one-by-one.  Let's also presume that the celebrity is, for simplicity's sake, Rachel Bilson, who's actually a pretty terrific choice; popular with both men and women, possessing a good enough sense of humour that seeing her in a high-end condom ad wouldn't seem completely out of place and I dunno, I'm just generally in favour of Rachel Bilson doing anything.  Need someone to help you move?  Call Rachel Bilson.  Having trouble cracking that cypher left behind by a criminal mastermind?  Let's get Rachel Bilson's take on the case.  Ring came off your pudding can?  Call Rachel Bilson, my good man.  

First of all, the feel.  Men complain all the time about how wearing a condom harshes their buzz, so to speak, and some women also feel the same way.  I can't speak for the female gender, but I can pretty much guarantee that you'd just need one commercial of Rachel Bilson cooing "I love how Magnums feel" to instantly solve every male problem about the subject.  The displeasure a guy may have from a condom's feel would be trumped by the image of Bilson in his head, so it's a win-win.  To solve this issue, a print ad.  Just a big image of Bilson under the covers, posing seductively, with the tag line of "Safety First: Fun Later."  As per the ruins-the-moment problem, you can just use the same image with a new tag line of "Don't Worry, I Can Wait" or something of that ilk.  If we can just tie the image of Rachel Bilson to condom usage, if I know men, condom usage would shoot up about 800 percent.

You may notice that I'm just covering this campaign from the male perspective.  This isn't the time I've been accused of not taking care of the ladies in bed --- heyo!  Burn!  Take that, uh, self!  Anyway, we can cover the Three Issues from a female perspective with a series of ads directly specifically at women, where Bilson approaches things from a "Hey, I've been there" perspective.  The feel problem, for instance.  "Hey ladies, as good as the pill is, it isn't foolproof.  And wouldn't you rather sacrifice a bit of comfort now for years worth of security?  I mean, look at this dope who's pumping away at you right now.  Nice enough guy, sure, but do you really want HIM as the father of your children?  Hell no!"  This could also lead to some fun casting of a male celebrity as the well-meaning dope as the partner.  Jay Baruchel leaps to mind for whatever reason.

Talk about a billion-dollar ad campaign.  Now, would a popular celebrity actually do this?  The trick is, it has to be a popular AND well-respected celebrity ---  I'm sure Paz De La Huerta or someone would be happy to endorse condoms, but that just adds a layer of sketchiness to the whole proceedings.  It has to be a female celebrity as well, since guys will innately get their backs up if they're told to do anything by a famous man they're secretly jealous of.  (For instance, I don't have Geico insurance since that gecko needs to be taken down a notch or two.  He just thinks he's SO GREAT.)  So the key is finding a well-liked, well-respected female celebrity whose attitude towards sex is "Sure, I like sex, what of it?" without being in-your-face or snotty about it.  Rachel Bilson, to a T.

This concludes this week's edition of Mark Would Be A Disaster As An Ad Man, And/Or As Rachel Bilson's Agent.

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