Monday, April 11, 2011

WowCondoms Launches - What a Learning Experience - It's Not 1987

We launched in March and I've been a condom sales person now for about a month and I've learned some things I expected and others I didn't.

One of the biggest shocks has been the response of sites such as YouTube, Facebook and many others who would not allow us to advertise with them. Condoms are not only a public health concern, but are also openly displayed in virtually every convenience, drug or department store so why the limitations on the Web? Here's a quick snapshot of what we encountered:
  • Microsoft Adcenter has been by far the most sympathetic and extremely nice over the telephone but it was an amazingly complicated process to get approved to advertise with them and we are now happy customers;
  • Facebook, on the other hand declined our advertisement with a picture of a blown up condom so we changed the image to a box of condoms which they approved and ran for three days, then without warning they shut down the entire fan page all together and sent me a message that I should be more careful with my posts. I did post some funny condom commercials I found on YouTube from around the World, nothing I would ever consider edgy, but who knows... They haven't responded to my appeal yet so I still have no idea why and our page is still nowhere to be seen.
  • Here's an email I received from Google for my AdWords account which means I am able to advertise on the Google search, but not the related network sites:
I have consulted a member of the policy team in the last few minutes and
they have confirmed that any Ads that advertise condoms, contraceptives
and the likes of are all considered non family safe. As a result they
cannot appear on the display network as only ads that are family safe can
appear on the display network. 
  • I then submitted some YouTube videos through Adwords and received a decline after about a weeks wait. Oddly enough, there's an advertisement for Trojan Magnums from Trojan on YouTube when I type "condoms" into the search which I did point out to them, but still a decline to me.
I can certainly understand why a corporation would try to engage as broad an audience as possible and that there is pressure from certain groups who oppose the use of condoms. What surprises and concerns me is the "who gets to decide" which Websites get displayed. Facebook, Google and YouTube are where Internet users go to search for information, be entertained and connect with friends. Granted, they own their respective sites and they get to decide who gets displayed and where but what does this mean for society and culture as hundreds of millions of us join and participate in these sites from all over the World? What will we be able to say, promote and communicate that could possibly offend someone?

I was in high school during the AIDS epidemic in the late 80's and condoms were not only culturally accepted, but also perceived as a public health necessity. I'm not sure what happened between then and now, but teenage pregnancy is rising for the first time in years and condom utilization, especially amongst adults with casual partners is on the decline. We haven't had an AIDS scare recently, but rest assured complacency will bring another one back.

As a result of all of this, we will use this blog to post more serious content and information related to condom reviews, technology and safety information. We still have a sense of humor and will be posting the more entertaining content on a sister blog which will be at:

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