Trying to sell condoms is a tough business. They’re a sex-item, but also a safety tool. They need to seem sexy, but can’t be too sexy. Contraceptive advertisements have to walk the line between erotic and protective while trying to sell something that no one really wants to use. I know that’s not the best thing to say, but it’s true. Don’t get me wrong– people should be practicing safe sex and wearing condoms, but they don’t really want to except to protect from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The following 10 commercials will make you cringe, not just because condoms are a sort of awkward and embarrassing necessity, but because the different angles companies take to in order to make you want to buy their product reveal exactly what’s so strange about the condom as a device. Most of the commercials take a particular stance as their selling point: they are trying to convince you that using their specific condom will not make sex less delightful or perhaps will even make intercourse feel better. Condom ads that are not overtly about erotic sensations tend to emphasize that you should be using condoms because the repercussions of unprotected sex are effing horrible. Commercials without a specific argument aim to arouse the viewers interest with humor or absurdity.
Without further ado, here are 10 cringe worthy condom commercials:
1) Trojan™ Pure Ecstasy Condoms- This ad uses the motto “feels like nothing’s there” matched with imagery to imply that wearing this condom is basically like not using a condom at all–only safer because you will indeed be using a Trojan Pure Ecstasy Condom. Selling rubbers by saying they don’t even feel like anything is a very popular method of advertising. This particular ad shows a naked couple about the town, their bits only covered by balloons, clocks and other objects that stand in for the actual naked parts. It’s very Austin Powers or Japanese Pink Eiga only far cornier.
2) Lifestyle Condoms- This ad was allegedly banned for being too crass. This might be my favorite of the bunch because it emphasizes a woman’s sexual gratification as a selling point rather than appealing to the male ego. I suppose it’s considered vulgar because it depicts a woman making sex noises in an empty apartment and does not use language until the end when it warns the viewer to “get ready for more pleasure.” I wonder if it would be considered crass enough to be banned if the commercial featured a man mimicking orgasm.
3) Zero Zero Four Condoms by Crown- Unlike the previous two commercials, rather than focusing on how pleasurable sex will be using their condoms, Crown emphasizes the whole birth control benefit of condom use. The entire ad shows children acting up in order to make the viewer irritated enough by youthful boisterousness to buy condoms to protect themselves from pregnancy.
4) Durex Condoms- The motto used in this commercial is “get it on.” The commercial shows balloon animals getting it on because condoms are sort of like balloons. It’s pretty straight forward, yet unnervingly and amusingly raunchy despite using balloon animals as stand-ins for humans having sex. The animals even engage in a three-way sex act. It’s oddly cute.
5) Trojan: Pleasure Preference- In this ad, famous condom-making company, Trojan, is asking “what’s your pleasure preference?” Do you prefer “a condom that feels like nothing’s there” or “a condom that adds to the experience?” The visuals in this ad show a fake Trojan test facility complete with sexy scientists and very satisfied human guinea pigs. This commercial is selling both the Ecstasy option (which we saw above) which feel like nothing and the Trojan “Fire and Ice” variety which allegedly make sex feel even better than if you’d used no condom at all.
6) Magnum Condoms- This awkward ad still has me wondering: real or parody? I think it’s real due to the polished camera work exhibiting Trojan’s beautiful golden magnum condom wrappers. The story in this spot is that of a woman excited to be in a man’s bed because she finds a rubber with a gilded wrapper: the golden ticket, like in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. The catch is that this golden ticket won’t admit her to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, instead it will bring her to pleasure town because the golden wrpper indicates a magnum condom and a magnum condom indicates a big ol’ wang coming her way. Too bad the item (and the giant penis) ends up belonging to her date’s roomie.
7) Naked Condoms- This one was banned in Australia because it shows actual (implied) penetration. A very blonde and Australian couple go into a pharmacy looking to buy condoms and end up testing out different varieties while in the store. They are very nonchalant about their public sexual intercourse, as are the spectators. The lady even talks to her mother on the phone while doing it.
8) Lifestyles SKYN Revolution Condom- Just another ad showing horny couples just this close to coitus and selling protection that allegedly feels like nothing. This kind of condoms from Lifestyles is billed as though “it’s like nothing now and like nothing ever before because it’s like nothing at all.” According to this advertisement, the SKYN condom which you probably saw floating in fishbowls in the unisex bathrooms at your liberal arts college has brought “the skin revolution.” Apparently this condom is so good at not feeling like a condom that “safe sex will never feel the same again.”
9) Condom PSA- This isn’t an ad for any particular kind of condom, but for condom use in general. Like another on this list, it shows that controlling birth is one of the greater benefits of condom usage. A child is throwing a horrible temper tantrum in a market, begging his papa for candy. This commercial might be banned (according to youtube), but it made me thank the powers that be for my IUD.
10) Trojan Bareskin Condoms TV Commercial- These are supposedly 40% thinner than other Trojan condoms and will bring you closer than ever to your partner. This ad successfully made me never want to have sex again.
When compiling this list, I realized that YouTube is full of speculative condom commercials made by jokesters, condom reviews by weirdos, and lots and lots of compilations of commercials banned for being too sexual.
Have safe sex, you guys. Wear condoms!
Image via Shutterstock