NEW YORK CITY--As commuters made their way home from work along Avenue A in the East Village on Friday night, a small group of women in purple miniskirts climbed out of a purple-and-white truck that read 'Trojan Vibrations' on its hood.
The Trojan 'Good Vibrations' Truck, as it is called, was driving around New York City to promote Trojan's new vibrator, the 'Trojan Twister,' which has five speeds, three different settings, and retails for $59.99.
The Trojan truck is, in many ways, your standard publicity campaign -- perhaps even less remarkable for its attempt to piggyback on the recent popularity of the city's food trucks.
But what was unique about this particular publicity campaign was the company’s efforts to engage the public in an open dialogue about female masturbation.
One Trojan representative had set up a video camera behind the truck, and was asking passersby if they would agree to answer some questions -- on camera. The video would be used on Trojan’s website and Facebook page, and if you agreed to the interview, you’d get a free four-speed vibrating penis ring (a $13 value with 20 minutes of battery life).
In one interview a young couple, appearing only slightly uncomfortable, participated in a frank discussion with a Trojan representative. “How would you feel if your partner introduced a vibrator into the bedroom?” she began.
“I wouldn’t mind,” the woman responded.
“And you?” the interviewer asked, turning to the woman's boyfriend.
“Well…” he paused. “I wouldn’t feel threatened... But it depends if she wants to use it more than her boyfriend.”
On Trojan’s part, this may have been simple market research, but it seemed to constantly lead to a candid discussion about sex and relationships, too.
Francis, a young woman who stopped by the truck, talked about how people might judge you for owning a vibrator, but insisted that it's “totally okay” to use one -- even a good idea when you want to “get the job done and you don’t want to deal with men.” Another young woman reported using a vibrator because her boyfriend lived several hours away.
If you go to Trojan’s website, where “The Twister” is advertised in detail, a link to Sexual Exploration takes users to an FAQ to explore topics like, “What if my partner is uncomfortable with me using a vibrator?” and “Are vibrators only for women?”
Upon further reading, you'll see that Trojan commissioned a study from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, which showed that "90 percent of women who have used a vibrator say it enhanced their relationship with their partner," and that "men and women who use vibrators are also more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, such as self-examination and regular health exams by a doctor."
It was initially unclear whether the Trojan Truck was merely a way to promote Trojan products, or if part of Trojan's campaign was aimed at encouraging and improving sexual health. Logan Levkoff, Ph.D, a sexologist hired by Trojan to ride along with the truck, told me that, “Pleasure is actually a part of sexual health because…it’s a release of oxytocin. Orgasms are good for you.”
While this may seem like a stretch to some, a little research validates her explanation. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone that helps combat infections and disease. It's released every time a person has an orgasm.
Trojan has no definite plans to launch a second Vibrations Truck Tour yet, but recommends checking the Facebook page for updates. Trojan's vibrating products are currently available at some New York City pharmacies, like Duane Reade and Walgreens.