Condom Ads Hit Network TV

Kaplan Thaler said she didn't anticipate any complaints about the nature of the commercials, noting that all four spots include the implication that abstinence is one of the most effective ways to protect against disease transmission.

"This is not an advertisement that is endorsing premarital sex," she said.

Negotiating With Other Networks

Trojan's Daniels said the company was negotiating to have the ads cleared for use on other networks. One advertising industry expert said the WB's lineup of programming, which includes shows that appeal to teenagers and adults in the 18-to-34-year-old demographic, probably made it the most obvious of the networks to be the launching pad for condom marketing.

"It's a little more surprising for NBC, and the other networks will probably take it on a case-by-case, show-by-show basis," said Jack Myers, editor of the Jack Myers Media Business Report. "In the end, it will all depend on how much money is on the table."

Myers estimated that, depending on the viewership, buying a 30-second commercial spot during prime-time network hours could cost anywhere from $70,000 to $350,000.

Both Daniels and Kaplan Thaler said they were not concerned about a possible backlash from religious or conservative groups who might take offense to condom commercials. The first commercial includes an attractive young couple gazing wistfully at one another, but the superimposed messages keep the commercial's focus on potential health risks and responsible sexual activity, they said.

Myers agreed, noting that despite some recent social outcries over programming that some groups consider offensive, the influx of other sexual health-related advertising suggests that these types of messages are becoming less of a taboo.

"In the current political climate it's probably easier not to air condom ads, so it's a tough decision for the networks," he said. "But I don't think there's any possibility of any meaningful backlash in terms of an impact on ratings or on other advertisers."

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