Monday, June 18, 2007


A story from the business section of today's New York Times:

IN a commercial for Trojan condoms that has its premiere tonight, women in a bar are surrounded by anthropomorphized, cellphone-toting pigs. One shuffles to the men's room, where, after procuring a condom from a vending machine, he is transformed into a head-turner in his 20s. When he returns to the bar, a fetching blond who had been indifferent now smiles at him invitingly.

...But the pigs did not fly at two of the four networks where Trojan tried to place the ad.

Fox and CBS both rejected the commercial. Both had accepted Trojan's previous campaign, which urged condom use because of the possibility that a partner might be H.I.V.-positive, perhaps unknowingly. A 2001 report about condom advertising by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that, "Some networks draw a strong line between messages about disease prevention -- which may be allowed -- and those about pregnancy prevention, which may be considered controversial for religious and moral reasons."

...In a written response to Trojan, ... Fox said that it had rejected the spot because, "Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy."

In its rejection, CBS wrote, "while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions." ...

The commercial will run on ABC, NBC and nine cable networks, including MTV, Comedy Central and Adult Swim....

Hmmm -- who rejected it? The sister network to Fox News and the flagship network run by Sumner Redstone, who said in 2004 that, even though he's a "liberal Democrat," he was endorsing Bush because "I vote for Viacom."

Redstone's empire does include Comedy Central and MTV, so he's not rejecting the ad altogether -- but the cultural commissars of the right did let him get away with relegating The Reagans, a TV movie made for CBS that they didn't like, to one of his cable channels, Showtime, so I guess the assumption was that the same rules applied here.

Redstone's media outlets sometimes anger the right -- and he seems to like to respond by making grandiose gestures of apology, such as pulling a 60 Minutes story, scheduled for just before the '04 election, on the administration's use of forged documents to sell the Iraq War, or giving a publishing imprint to GOP strategist and Cheney flack Mary Matalin (that's the imprint that published the million-dollar flop book by Mary Cheney, though I'm sure Redstone thinks it was money well spent). This seems like more of the same.

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