Making Love; It’s War
In war, it’s common to think of bulletproof vests, military helmets, and armored SUV’s as excellent forms of protection, but on the home-front, the battle against sexually transmitted diseases and infection, as well as unplanned pregnancy, contraceptive condoms are the best form of protection. The use of manufactured contraceptive condoms as a method of birth control and disease prevention dates back to the late 1800’s; the first condoms being produced from rubber, and later condoms being produced from latex. Since the manufacturing of condoms was taken to a large scale operation, two businesses have dominated the market for standard latex condom sales: Trojan Condoms and Durex. Considering the decline in use of condoms by individuals, especially in universities, Trojan and Durex are implementing persuasive tactics in order to encourage the use of condoms, specifically their brands.
Trojan’s history dates back to the early 1900’s, and shows a development that has expanded from a regional production to a global one. Trojan Condoms was founded in 1920 by Merle Leland Youngs in New York City. According to Koerner, during World War I the U.S. Government outlawed the sale of contraceptives and did not supply condoms to their soldiers, unlike the European armies. Fearing that soldiers would return home and spread syphilis, a judge in New York ruled in favor of Margaret Sanger’s plea to legally distribute information on contraceptives. Youngs took this opportunity to open a manufacturing plant in Trenton, New Jersey, and designated his brand by establishing the wrappers with a Trojan Helmet. At the time, most condom manufacturers emblazoned packages with erotic artwork, and Youngs’ approach held more respect from pharmacists, who were more willing to sell his product due to its packaging (Koerner, “The Other Trojan War”). Youngs eventually changed his product name from Youngs Drug Products to Trojan after Ansell-Americas (Manufacturer – LifeStyles condoms) attempted to acquire it. Trojan’s image was slowly established, but did not expand until the mid-1970, when condoms were transferred from behind the shelves to front aisles in stores. By 1975, Koerner references that Trojan accounted for 56% of the market, demonstrating their trustworthiness in consumers’ eyes, and a higher reputation for their products. Campaign-wise, Trojan will have to do less work developing their reputation in their advertising and can focus more on the products they are promoting. In today’s market, “Trojan is to condoms as Kleenex is to tissues” (Koerner, “The Other Trojan War”), which analogizes that Trojan is the current market leader for condoms, such as Kleenex is the market leader of tissues.
Durex, the current runner up behind Trojan in the condom market, began in 1915, 5 years prior to Youngs’ company, under the name of The London Rubber Company (LRC). Founded by LA Jackson, LRC initially sold imported barber shop supplies and condoms, and it was not until 1929 that LRC registered the Durex brand. According to DurexUSA.com, Durex was a very innovative company, being the first to implement electronic testing for their products, as well as the first to release anatomically shaped condoms. Unlike Trojan, Durex never was attempted to be acquired by another company, and their innovations helped provide the standards that most condom manufacturing companies use today. In addition to their innovations, Durex was also one of the first condom manufacturers to expand globally, helping individuals in other countries receive condoms to prevent births and the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s). By expanding to a global scale, Durex became a trustworthy form of protection throughout the world and appears as a good-hearted company in consumers’ opinions due to their charity in these undeveloped countries. Although these countries do show a large spread of STDs and STIs, the issue is also prevalent in the United States.
In order to combat the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, both Trojan and Durex condoms are targeting the market: Adults between the ages of 18 and 22; particularly college students. This is prevalent in both company’s advertising strategies, mostly relying on sexual innuendos as humor or by targeting sex appeal directly; a concept that would not be understood by a younger audience, and that may not be as effective with an older one. The issue with targeting this audience is that there is currently a decline in the use of condoms among individuals this age, presenting Durex and Trojan with the difficult task of persuading them.
In a society where many individuals are beginning to draw away from condom use, companies like Trojan and Durex are utilizing their websites and advertising in order to persuade more individuals to use condoms, especially their own brand. As referenced in the Sociology of Heath & Illness, women are beginning to be less-passive regarding male’s condom use or non-use, and are playing a “much more active role in sexual decision making than is generally assumed” (Devries & Free 827-842). The diminishing use of condoms has also led to a spark in the spread of STDs, according to Kiene, Tennen and Armeli, especially among college students. In a study of 222 undergraduate students from the University of Connecticut, only 39% of individuals always used a condom, while 22% never did, and 39% were inconsistent condom users (Kiene et all 463). According to an article published in the Journal of Sex Research by Walsh, Fielder, K. Carey and M. Carey, “most college students are sexually active…and use condoms inconsistently” (Walsh et all 128). This article tracked women’s use of condoms over the course of their first year of college, and showed that by the end of their first year, the majority of women used condoms less frequently with sexual partners than at the beginning of the year. With the increase in women desiring sexual intercourse without the use of a condom, and the correlation of a higher spread of STDs with the declining sales of condoms, Trojan and Durex are both faced with the need for immediate action to persuade individuals to purchase and use their brand of condoms.
When first visiting Trojan Condoms website, a banner for Trojan’s “Pure Ecstasy” and “Ecstasy” condoms flashes at the top of the screen, promoting their newer product, and expressing how this product “feels like nothing’s there”, a direct response to the decline of condom sales. This banner expresses that Trojan feels that people are not using condoms due to an increased sensation without them, so they are using a logos counter-argumentative method by stating that it feels like you are not using a condom, so you are unable to use that as your excuse not to purchase them. Further down the page, I begin to see smaller banners, where Trojan is advertising various products and events, one specific is their Spring Break 2013 promotion, where they gave away free products and tickets for spring breakers in Panama City Beach, Florida. This associates with a pathos effect, due to the positive emotional association between spring break and partying, and a good time with Trojan’s products. In addition to Trojan’s “Pure Ecstasy” and “Ecstasy” line of condoms, they also offer their “BareSkin” line, which in a similar sense is targeted towards individuals who desire to have the increased feeling during sexual activity that normal condoms prevent. Trojan states that these condoms are 40% thinner than standard their standard condoms. Trojan’s history and current market position gives them an ethos advantage; suggesting that their superiority in the marketplace is due to their higher quality condom. This credibility is suggested based on market position, not directly stated on their website. In general, Trojan applies sex-appeal to their persuasive techniques, by directly correlating their products with sexual intercourse and explaining how their products could make sexual intercourse more enjoyable, a common pathos approach. I personally find this approach successful as it directly shows the audience what products the business has to offer, and utilizes counter-arguments in order to prevent objection.
In comparison to Trojan’s website, Durex’s website is more informative than Trojan’s emotional approach. Durex attempts to draw away from their product line on their website and keep viewers on their website as long as possible by featuring articles on their homepage entitled “Women’s Orgasm Problems: It’s not as easy as it looks” and “The Most Sensitive Parts of the Human Body (Besides the Obvious: Where your partner’s feeling it most.” These two obviously sexual articles are intended to apply an emotional response through information, providing a combined pathos and logos techniques, expressing legitimate logical information in a way that increases ones desire for sex. Durex promotes their products along the side of the page, similar to how an advertisement would be located, in order to subliminally make you aware of their products without forcing you to look at them. This method would be effective because it allows customers to read articles regarding sex, which could potentially have a pathos effect on them by increasing their desire for sex. Since they would already be on Durex’s website, they would be able to research and purchase different forms of protection without having to go to other websites. Although this is effective by making you stay on their page longer, I feel that it is not an effective way to promote your products, since you are directing individuals to articles that are sex-related without tying it into your actual product lines.
Both products are attempting to target young adults with their websites, considering their attempts to convince more individuals in their target market to use their products and be safer sexually. In my professional opinion, I feel that Trojan utilized persuasive techniques better in order to encourage individuals to purchase their products. They utilized pathos and logos separately, and prevented arguments by using a counter-argument for their “Ecstasy” line of condoms. In addition to that, their current market standings suggests a credibility to Trojan’s image, portraying ethos persuasion. Although Durex successfully combined logos and pathos with their articles, it only succeeded in encouraging individuals to spend more time on their website, not persuading them to purchase their products.
Devries, Karen M., and Caroline Free. “‘I Told Him Not to Use Condoms’: Masculinities, Femininities and Sexual Health of Aboriginal Canadian Young People.” Sociology of Health & Illness 32.5 (2010): 827-42. Web.
Kiene, Susan M., Howard Tennen, and Stephen Armeli. “Today I’ll Use a Condom, But Who Knows About Tomorrow: A Daily Process Study of Variability in Predictors of Condom Use.” Health Psychology 27.4 (2008): 463-72. Web.
Koerner, Brendan. “The Other Trojan War: What’s the Best-selling Condom in America?” Slate.com. 29 Sept. 2006. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
Walsh, Jennifer L., Robyn L. Fielder, Kate B. Carey, and Michael P. Carey. “Changes in Women’s Condom Use over the First Year of College.” Journal of Sex Research 50.2 (2013): 128-38. Print.