Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Lack of Minority faces in Safe Sex Ads by Condom Manufacturers

Each year two major condom manufacturing companies Trojan and Durex emphasizes the importance of safer sex through elaborate commercials geared towards Americans purchasing their products. While their efforts to have Americans practice safe sex should be applauded, the lack of African American and Latino representation should raise a red flag from minority consumers.
African Americans and Latinos are sexual beings who should be interested in (or targeted for) practicing sexual safety. And the fact that Black and Brown communities are at a greater risk for contracting HIV, shouldn't we be prioritized in the marketing strategy? If not prioritized, these communities should at the least be included. Yes, I know that's an optimistic thought. But look, they owe us that much considering all the Magnum references made in hip-hop songs, lol. Bottom line, these companies know we're purchasing their products and to not include us is unacceptable and highly questionable.

How many times have you sat at home and stumbled across a condom commercial? Did you ever feel compelled to use a condom based on the “European” individuals in the ad? Did the condom ad properly present the way you experience sexual pleasures as a person of color? There's a direct disconnection with American safe sex ads and American sexual behaviors. Americans are too conservative! Therefore a lot of these ads are restricted in the way they promote safe sex....their entire approach is outdated, sexist, oppressive, homophobic, and borderline racist crap.

Recently, I did a little web research looking for ads that spoke directly to me as a Black woman needless to say most of the ads featured young white folks in the stereotypical sexist fashion. However there were a few ads that featured African American narrators, there's the ad with the overweight Black guy playing the role of Condom Fairy, or the ad that looks like a scene from a hip-hop video. This did nothing for me personally...I'm looking to be spoken to not at.

Then I stumbled upon a Trust condom ad from Kenya. The ad featuring an all African cast of characters suggestively hinting at the importance of using condoms. One (Trust) ad presented a heterosexual presentation of Black love and the importance of safe sex. The other (extremely entertaining) ad suggested the correct way of putting on a condom. Reports suggest that correct utilization of a condom is essential for decreasing the chance of transmitting HIV. It was an entertaining and educational way to speak directly to the realities of a country facing an AIDS pandemic. Kenya is at the forefront of combating HIV. They've been able to reach a population that's at high risk for contracting the AIDS virus through the implementation of culturally sensitive and progressive programs and models. Kenyans totally get that social marketing plays into influencing how certain groups experience condom use.

And the fact that Black and Brown folks aren't even primary subjects in US condom ads, might be another reason “we” are contracting HIV at alarming rates.

Take a look at the condom commercials and tell me what you think. The ads aren't perfect but I think it's a start in the right direction.

Could this be an approach that we need to try here in the United States? Should we demand more ads that feature Black and Brown people? Could there be a possibility that this might change the way we relate to safe sex?