Thursday Trends: Same-Sex Couples Reflected in Advertising

Tiffany's first ad featuring a gay couple (Adweek)

Tiffany’s first ad featuring a gay couple (Adweek)

Advertisements are finally getting with the times, and featuring more diversity than your run-of-the-mill straight white couple.

Last month, jewelry giant Tiffany’s debuted a new print ad for their wedding rings. But this ad had one thing different: it prominently featured a gay couple. And apparently the two men are a couple in real life, and were photographed on their own New York stoop.

This was the first time Tiffany’s has used a same-sex couple in their advertising. But it won’t be the last: Just this week, the brand used the same couple in a TV-spot ad. (The ad also features straight and interracial couples.) It signals that the 178-year-old brand recognizes that love comes in many forms, and they want to be all-inclusive. (And it’s a smart business move.)

Other brands in recent years have featured same-sex couples. Preppy retailer J. Crew used a gay couple in their catalog in spring 2011, and Gap used another couple on a billboard the following year. Incidentally, neither sets of couples are professional models: In the case of the J. Crew couple, one of the men was a designer for the brand. (It seems there’s also a side-trend of using real people.)

Lesbian couples are also increasingly represented. In 2012, JC Penney featured a lesbian couple with their children in a catalog pegged to Mother’s Day. Last year, condom brand Durex used two women being playfully affectionate with each other in an ad for a massage gel. This year, Hallmark showed an ad featuring a real-life lesbian couple describing their feelings for each other in the run up to Valentine’s Day.

It’s clear that things are changing. Even “The Onion” got in the action, with a (mock) article claiming that jewelry company Zales created an ad featuring a polyamorous triad. (But the article did rightfully call out that we, as a whole society, aren’t quite there yet.)

Hopefully this follow its natural progression, and  will eventually lead to more ads featuring same-sex couples with families. It’d be great to see future print and online ads and commercials where we see a family with two dads or two moms, NBD.

After all, this would make complete economic sense for these companies: In 2012, “Adweek” reported that the LGBT market is estimated to be worth around $743B+.

 

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Why Are Condoms So Expensive in Venezuela Right Now?

Condoms (Prevention Justice)

Condoms (Prevention Justice)

Happy Friday!

Apropos of National Condom Week: Would you pay $755 for a box of condoms?

That’s insane, right? But right now, sexually-active and contraception-conscious Venezuelans don’t have much of a choice. That’s how much a 36-pack of Trojan condoms is going for. With the exchange rate, it works out to be $20+ per condom. If you’re shopping around, a 24-back of Durex condoms is selling for $317, making it the (slightly) more economical choice of $13+ per condom. (For context, this is about $10 more than the country’s standard black market rate.)

This is really alarming when you consider that the country’s minimum monthly wage is $888.24.

The Venezuelan people literally cannot afford to have safe sex.

The reason behind these sky-high prices? Oil.

Venezuela exports a lot of the stuff, using it to bring in around 95% of foreign earnings. But oil prices have fallen dramatically recently (over 60% drop within the past seven months), leading to fewer earnings for the country. This, in turn, inhibits Venezuela’s ability to import other basic goods (such as chicken, milk and corn), since their money doesn’t stretch as far. The Bank of America Corporation estimates the the country will import 42% less in earnings than it did in 2012.

Condoms aren’t the only contraceptive that’s hard to come by within the country. Birth control pills are also in high demand, and are very hard to find right now.

According to “Bloomberg Business,” the shortages began in late December, when the Venezuelan government “tightened dollar disbursements amid sliding oil revenue.” The Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation offered the following observation:

No condoms were available in 10 eastern and central Caracas pharmacies visited in late January, compared with as many as 20 different kinds available at some locations in November, including Reckitt Benckiser Group plc’s Durex and Church & Dwight Co.’s Trojan brands.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was attempting to fix this problem before it started: Last June, he announced that the government was building a condom factory to meet the country’s demand. But since then, customers disliked the quality of the condoms, and demand often outpaced supply.

Another factor in this saga is Venezuela’s own sexual health stats. According to a 2012 World Bank study, the country has the fifth-highest number of teen pregnancies out of the 21 Latin America countries. (This averages out to be 88+ live births for women ages 15-19 for every 1K women.) It also has the fourth-highest number of people living with AIDS on the continent.

If this condom (and birth control) shortage continues, it’ll impact Venezuela’s teen pregnancy and AIDS population for the worse. As prices rise, people will become more inclined to completely forgo any birth control method, and the government might not be able to support the overwhelming resulting birth rate. Let’s hope a solution arrives before these things come to pass.

I’m just thankful condoms are not only cheaper than a child, but also cheaper than a month’s rent.

#ThrowbackThursday: Sheik Condoms by Rudolph Valentino

Sheik Condoms (Bag The Web)

Sheik Condoms (Bag The Web)

I found this image of an interesting condom tin, and decided to do some sleuthing to find out more. Sheik condoms were part of the Durex brand, and were popular for decades before being phased out.

Some interesting history: Silver screen idol Rudolph Valentino appears on this condom tin. He played a sheik in 1921’s silent movie “The Sheik,” and it became one of his most well-known roles. When his picture appeared on Sheik condoms, prophylactic sales then skyrocketed as average men wanted to get what he had for themselves.

I’m trying to imagine any actors who’d be up for lending their faces to sell condoms, but sadly I think those days are past.