Advertisements promoting condom use to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted disease infections began airing for the first time during prime-time TV viewing hours on Wednesday. The WB Network aired an ad for Trojan condoms during its drama Smallville, which airs 9 P.M.-10 P.M. Eastern and Pacific. NBC also approved a Trojan commercial, set to air after 10 P.M. on the network. Trojan maker Church and Dwight is in discussions with the other major TV networks to air the ads on those stations as well.
Although there are no rules preventing condom ads from appearing during prime-time viewing hours, network television to date has aired them only late at night, when younger viewers would be less likely to tune in. The new ads stress the health benefits of condom use, which helped persuade the networks to air the commercials earlier in the evening. All of the spots also include the message, "Other than abstinence, there is only one way to protect yourself. Use a condom every time."
"I expect there will be people who do feel a need to react negatively because we're discussing sexuality," Jim Daniels, vice president of marketing for Trojan, told the New York Post. "I hope most people see this and acknowledge that these are responsible and appropriate discussion points."
However, one of the nation's largest AIDS advocacy groups is protesting one of the four Trojan condom ads. The commercial in question includes a graphic that states 40% of all people who know they are HIV-positive do not tell their sexual partners of their infection. The statistic was meant to urge viewers to take personal responsibility for protecting themselves against HIV, but the National Association of People With AIDS calls the ad "deeply disturbing and irresponsible."
The ad "only serves to heighten the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS," said NAPWA executive Terje Anderson in a press release. He also said the information presented in the commercial is "misleading and highly incendiary." NAPWA is calling for the immediate removal of that particular ad from the condom advertising campaign.