Mad World: Trojan Vibrator Goes Primetime, Kind of

Those of you who have cable may have seen a new product advertised recently: the Trojan Tri-Phoria. Now, TV ads for vibrators aren't exactly headline news (in fact, we ran a charticle on vibrator commercials in our Buzz issue last year), but this new sex toy ad is airing during cable primetime shows like The Daily Show, and some networks (VH1, Spike) are running it during the day as well. Sex toy ads! In the daytime! What do we make of this? Let's watch the ad and find out:

So, the ad itself is pretty tame. Apparently, Trojan made some concessions to avoid being relegated to the after-midnight time slots (where vibrator ads typically live), and one of those concessions was to never actually call the Tri-Phoria a "vibrator." Sure, we all know what a "personal massager" is for, but still, this is new territory for sex toys and the ads that sell them.

The question, then, is this: Should sex toys be advertised during primetime/daytime television? While most sex-positive feminists like ourselves are certainly fine seeing vibrator advertisements, do we want to watch them with our kids (or our friends' kids, or the kids we're babysitting)? I have to admit that I feel torn here. I don't personally find the ad or the product offensive in any way, but part of me agrees with Viacom VP Brian Fays that, "No matter how liberal you are, a little kid doesn't need to hear the word 'vibrator.'" Of course, that same little kid doesn't need to hear the words "erectile dysfunction" either, and that phrase is uttered about once every 1.5 seconds during the average tv-watching stint.

On another note, I also just don't like the ad itself. It's cheesy and heteronormative and irritating, and the infomercial parody thing has been done way better in the past. I do appreciate that it is somewhat of a send-up of the aforementioned erectile dysfunction spots, though, because it's completely sexist that boner ads get a free pass while vibrator ads have to walk on eggshells. It's both or neither, folks! You can't have your boner and ignore your vibrator too.

Clearly this is complicated and arriving at a definite conclusion may not be in the cards, which is why I think it's best that we put it to a vote:

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Comments

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Forget ED prescriptions...

Forget ED prescriptions... vibrator ads shouldn't cause a second thought if there are also prime-time ads for alcohol, a way riskier product regulated by age.

I say nay

but for a different reason. Trojan's other personal massager ad involved two women discussing the product while an older woman eavesdropped and made faces. One of the younger women finally asks where to get one and the older woman replies "you order it online, that's how I got mine" and then everyone laughs.
The old ad was trite and cheesy but it was about women of all ages and their sexual pleasure. With this bland as can be remake I can't help but wonder if part of the redo for Prime time included dropping any mention of an older woman having a sex life much less a toy for it.

I really liked that old ad

I really liked that old ad for the same reason! I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw it. I can't name another time I've seen an older women portrayed as interested in sexual pleasure, like, ever outside of maybe Anne Bancroft as Mrs Robinson in "The Graduate" and now stupid "cougar" presentations of older women on dumb sitcoms.

These ads are pretty tame. I

These ads are pretty tame. I wouldn't be concerned about young kids watching this, it's vague enough that kids would likely just glaze over and ignore the ad, or not understand the reference to vibrators. Even some teens would probably miss it too (hell, I would be one of those kids thinking "Personal massager? Oh, ok, cool" and totally not get it).

Only Controversial If You Think Like Christine O'Donnell

Being deprived of all information about orgasms in my years growing up had a negative effect on me. If only I'd had some kind of a hint. When I had my first orgasms at 10 years old I didn't know what they were. I thought i might be losing years off of my life every time i did it. I didn't know for sure what it was I was doing until I first had actual sex at age 19 (9 years later). Meanwhile for all those years I'd been racked with guilt about it. The spankings I got every night (I had blocked out that it was for not doing homework) followed by hugging and kissing probably didn't help either. If only i'd had some kind of a hint like mentions in this Trojans Vibrations Advertisement of the side effect of curled toes or intense waves of pleasure. Some parents just don't do decent sex education at home.

Think about all the kids who had parents like mine or like "Christine O'Donnell, who claimed masturbation is adultery.

I don't think that ad is controversial at all. If anything there should be sex education visible everywhere available for people of every age to see. Sexual ignorance is harmful.

Fine with me

I think commercials for sex toys, even if they're not the best commercials*, are a great way to chip away at the taboo of female sexuality. For most my teenage years, I knew about vibrators solely through whispered hearsay, and the one sex shop nearby was relegated to a shady, out-of-the-way backstreet, next to the one gay bar. The none-too-subtle message might best be summarized as "FEMALE MASTURBATION IS NOT OKAY." If youngsters aren't reading Bitch or Bust, and the rare movie that shows vibrators (eg. Better than Chocolate) keeps getting slapped with NC-17, an ad is a good demonstration that one doesn't have to be ashamed of a sex toy.

Might it create awkward situations? Sure, but as you said, there's the ubiquitous Viagra, condom ads all over the radio if not TV...hell, even tampon ads will provoke questions from the little ones in the family. And if it's okay to explain menstruation, shouldn't it ideally be all right to talk about masturbation too?

* And this one's really not, is it? Yikes. Love the visual tokenization with those four friends!

Voted nay

You got to be kidding me on this. Prefer these types of commericals to air at their normal time then not normal time.

There Are Always Funny Cat Videos

When you said "you've got to be kidding me on this" it caused me to think of the Moff's Law suggestion of "GO WATCH A GODDAM FUNNY CAT VIDEO"(Moff's Law quote). Actually that's not a bad idea, so maybe I should too. Here's a funny cat video. It's not like the ad contains live in-person demonstrations of how to use vibrators, dildos in strap-on-harnesses or condoms and lubes . Now those I could imagine airing after primetime.

This ad was really, really innocuous.

Talk about it but don't show it

Are these ads working for them? I would never ever buy a vibrator or even consider it without having seen what it is. They don't show the product! Is that the only way that you're allowed to get a vibrator ad on TV? I just find it frustrating that they talk all around the issue but they don't actually show the product or say explicitly what it is. To me, this is not a step forward.

I think we should have vibrator ads on TV, but not like this.

Good point.

I'm hoping they weren't allowed to show it because it's a phallic sex toy rather than because it's a sex toy, period. (Maybe neither reason is ideal, but the former seems less problematic.) Time and future ads will tell, I think!

Hahahahaha, wow. It's so

Hahahahaha, wow. It's so cheesy! The blonde woman is literally riding a horse down a beach.

I'm on a horse!

To be honest, this commercial is just as cheesy, unrealistic and plagued with the problems of tokenization, heteronormativity and all-around silliness that any other commercial is, be they for phone service, sunblock, tampons or Viagara. And maybe that's a good thing. Even if the presentation is problematic, it's no more problematic than anything else (I'm not counting aggressively sexist or racist ad campaigns here, just the run-of-the-mill crap), and this in itself could be considered a good thing. If ad companies are treating female masturbation as something as everyday and ordinary as air conditioning units and hair products, then maybe some progress has been made.

I've always found Trojan to have something of a sense of humor regarding their products, even they are firmly ensconced within the hetero tradition (no pun intended), and although the commercial was somewhat cringe-inducing on pure cheesiness factor, it was a good parody of the ED medication ads.

Trojan has done some good

Trojan has done some good work in the gay male community so I wouldn't say they are entirely heteronormative (albeit, maybe homonormative.)

What struck me as interesting in this ad is that the "personal massager" wasn't regulated only to the private realm- the women gave it as a gift, shared a laugh. Sexuality in that sense seems to be open. The announcer even recommends to "share" in the experience with a partner.

I understand it is frustrating seeing the normative tv representations. We have pretty blond woman riding white horse with attractive partner, token black friend and other pretty people. But if this ad was marketed towards a daytime audience, these representations make sense (from a marketing pov).

I know my nephew wouldn't get the references. And Pixar films have more explicit adult jokes than this ad so it doesn't bother me that children are exposed.