In a first for the sexual health category, MTV is teaming up with Trojan condoms for a multi-platform sponsorship of the Video Music Awards pre-show, which airs Thursday Sept. 6. at 7 p.m. ET/PT before the VMA telecast kicks off at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The promotion will support the launch of Trojan Charged, a new product that debuted this spring.
Much in the same way that the condom is said to provide an "enhanced" experience (the deep-ribbed condom comes equipped with an intensified lubricant), the VMAs' pre-show coverage will feature an "enhanced" camera operated by LMFAO's SkyBlu, featuring red-carpet interviews from his point of view. Additionally, Trojan is supporting the ceremony by sponsoring mtvU's VMA Tour -- featuring Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa -- as well as a fan sweepstakes and a Trojan Charged "Intensified Viewing Party" across the street from the Staples Center, this year's venue.
The Trojan partnership is particularly noteworthy given the sensitivity surrounding condom advertising on television. Though not formally regulated by any government or industry related restrictions, condom ads have appeared sparingly during broadcast prime-time (NBC and the WB were the first to air condom ads in 2005), appearing instead during late-night and cable programming. Though broadcast networks have relaxed some long-standing policies for awards shows in recent years as ratings show declines, Mark Gromosaik, product manager for Trojan condoms, is not sure he could have the same kind of partnership with a network telecast.
"Knowing some of the challenges we've had in the past just getting them to accept our advertising during prime-time, I would expect it would be a challenge," Gromosaik says. "The reality is lot of folks still aren't comfortable with condoms in this day and age. But MTV has been very open minded and they've been great partners. To be able to reach such a concentrated number of target consumers, you'd be pretty hard-pressed to beat MTV and specifically the VMAs in doing that."
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Trojan has been an active sponsor of other music programs in the past, including the Vans Warped Tour and a 2010 contest with Ludacris on behalf of Magnum condoms (dubbed Live Large, appropriately enough). "Music is definitely a passion point we've been successful with in the past," Gromosaik says. "Condom use typically is heaviest among younger consumer, and we like to say our bullseye target is 18 to 24-year-olds. So when you look at the VMA demographics, they just match up perfectly. If you're going to reach a mass audience of younger consumers, this is a great vehicle to do that."
MTV is changing up its entire approach to pre-show coverage this year, featuring a multi-tiered carpet for the first time outside the Staples Center. Demi Lovato and Calvin Harris have already been confirmed for performances, and fellow sponsor Bing will announce the winner of the new "Most Share-Worthy Video" category during the pre-show. That's why Rachel Baumgarten, MTV's senior VP of integrated marketing, liked the idea of teaming with Trojan and SkyBlu for the custom camera footage. "We always want to make sure we're providing our audience with new and different ways to engage our show," she says.
The 2011 VMAs reached a record audience for the network, with 12.4 million total viewers tuning in - 8.5 million of which were aged 12 to 34, making the awards the most-watched event for the demo. As a result, this year's telecast has already broken records in terms of sponsor activity before it even airs.
"From a sales and marketing perspective, this will be our most successful VMAs ever on all screens," says Jeff Lucas, head of sales for Viacom Media Networks' music and entertainment groups. "Advertisers don't want to miss the largest millennial event of the year."
In addition to Trojan Charged, official sponsors this year include 5 Gum, Adidas Originals, Bing, CoverGirl, Kia Motors America, Orbit Gum, Pepsi, Samsung Galaxy S III, State Farm, Taco Bell and Verizon Wireless.