NYC gets a condom cab for Valentine’s Day

February 11, 2013  |  Jack Neff for Advertising Age  |  Comments

Three Trojan “Safe Rides” taxis will patrol New York City’s Greenwich Village and NYU neighbourhoods on Valentine’s Day, offering free rides in exchange for taking sexual health quizzes.

You could say it’s where the rubber really meets the road.

The program from Trojan PR shop Edelman works essentially like “Cash Cab meets condoms,” though Mark Gromosaik, group product manager for the Church & Dwight Co. brand, points out that it’s not affiliated with the Discovery Channel game-show series. It’s part of Trojan’s National Condom Month promotion and very much in the sweet spot timing wise. Nielsen data show the week of Valentine’s Day is when condoms sell best.

The cabs, operating from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Feb. 14 and 15, will be driven by limousine drivers selected and trained for good customer-service skills, Mr. Gromosaik said. A Trojan representative will administer the quizzes in each cab, so the drivers won’t be distracted.

Trojan has obtained all necessary medallions and city clearances, Mr. Gromosaik added. The brand is still smarting, after all, from its last big New York City promotion, a vibrator giveaway from hot-dog-style carts in August that drew big crowds but was temporarily suspended by the city for lack of necessary permits, prompting a front-page New York Post story with the classic headline “Buzz Kill.”

“You’ll just hail it like a regular cab when you see it coming down, and if no one is in the cab at the time, they’ll just pull over and stop and pick you up,” Mr. Gromosaik said. That is, if the rider has no reservations about a cab with a giant condom on top and will travel in the designated area: No free rides to JFK or Brooklyn, in other words.

Potential fares looking to bone up on sexual health prior to their cab quizzes can visit a new website Trojan has developed in conjunction with the American Sexual Health Association.

Trojan’s cabs come as the brand prepares to add a third leg to its product repertoire besides condoms and vibrators. Trojan Crazy Sexy Feel lubricants, though not part of the cab campaign, will launch this spring, backed by samples in millions of condom boxes and a broader media push (Joey Co., Brooklyn, and Colangelo Synergy Marketing, Darien, Conn., handle the brand, along with Edelman).

The market for sexual lubricants, with sales of around $250 million annually in the U.S., is only about half the size of the $500 million condom market. But there’s plenty of room to grow, and adding a new category is part of Church & Dwight Co. Chaiman-CEO Jim Craigie’s plan to make Trojan “our next great mega-brand in this country after Arm & Hammer,” he said at the company’s investor conference Feb. 5.

This story originally appeared in Advertising Age.

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