Investing in Safe Sex

Looking for your investment to get some action?  Check out the goods on Trojan.

Maybe one of the best ways to fight back against the conservative assault on reproductive rights and sex education is to invest in Church & Dwight, which is sort of funny given that "church" is in the name.  What does the company behind Arm & Hammer Baking Soda have to do with sexual freedom (unless odorless refrigerators turn you on)?  Well, they also happen to be the fine folks behind Trojan and Elexa condoms, and they are burning up with the desire to make sex safer.

"Of course they are," you are probably cynically thinking to yourself.  "If they promote safe sex, they sell more condoms."  The funny thing is that Trojan already owns the condom market, raking in 75% of rubber sales, according to The New York Times.  Last year, Trojan launched Elexa, a line of regular to-be-used-on-the-penis condoms targeted to women.  I admit that the gender marketing angle annoys me to no end, but Logan Levkoff, a sexologist on Trojan's advisory board who happens to be a friend of mine, convinced me that this is all for the greater good. 

First of all, Elexa surveyed women and asked them what was stopping them from using condoms.  Some of it was formulaic, so Trojan made Elexa less smelly and more pleasant to use.  Second, women like to be gender marketed to (yes, I am gritting my teeth as I write this) and said they'd be more inclined to buy condoms if they were in pretty packages (I'm paraphrasing here), stocked next to tampons and pads in stores.  If that is what it takes to get women to protect themselves during sex, than who am I to protest?  Part of Trojan's aim with Elexa is to increase sales by reaching out to new customers, but it is important to note that the fastest rising group of people getting STDs and HIV is heterosexual women.  If Elexa's pretty boxes get them to use condoms, that's great.

Trojan's latest ad campaign goes back to its usual demographic.  It's called Evolve, and the idea is that only cretins would not want to use condoms.  The ad was rejected from Fox (they only run condom ads that are "health related," and it seems that preventing unplanned pregnancy is not in that category) and CBS (they thought it was not appropriate for their viewers – maybe it would make them upset after all the Viagra ads remind them what they are missing?), but it doesn't even mention Trojan until the very end, when the logo flashes by. The logic?  Trojan's VP for marketing, Jim Daniels, told the Times that, "With a 75 percent share of the market, we can prioritize growing the category and increasing overall condom usage,” Mr. Daniels said. “Right now in the U.S. only one in four sex acts involves using a condom. That’s dramatically below usage rates in other developed countries. Our goal is to dramatically increase use.”  Sounds like a true public health advocate!

For anyone who supports safe sex and also wants to "grow your portfolio" (sorry, couldn't resist), Trojan might just be the entry point.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket, though.  There are some fantastic nonprofits also working hard to educate the public about sexuality.  Great ones include: Alan Guttmacher Institute, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).  These are the types of investments and organizations that you can invest in and still feel good about yourself in the morning.