In honor of Advertising Week 2011, a time when advertisers gather to exchange ideas, celebrate great work, and discuss industry goals, we've decided to take a look at ads for a product that has excellent selling points and yet inspires some very strange advertisements: birth control.
The 50th anniversary of The Pill last year was important for a couple of reasons: In addition to marking a half-century of unprecedented reproductive freedom for women, it also meant that there are now plenty of women who have spent almost their entire reproductive lives using some form of hormonal contraceptive.
Is that problematic? Possibly. The pill is not perfect. Side effects and health complications associated with it include blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks, and some studies have even suggested it puts women at an increased risk for developing breast cancer. And it in some very rare cases, it doesn't prevent pregnancy. As recently as two weeks ago, there was a major recall of several brands of the Pill due to "packaging errors" that could lead to unplanned conception.
In spite of the risks, around 44.5 million women (82 percent) had used an oral contraceptive pill at some time in their lives, according to a 2002 report from the Center for Disease Control. The fact that so many women use the Pill despite the possible side effects suggests a) how essential women consider it to be and b) that these products have some serious marketing dollars behind them. It's worth considering, then, what that marketing looks like. Given the stats, most ad campaigns for birth control products are probably quite successful. And then there are the exceptions.
Here are some of the most memorable birth control commercials that have graced the small screen -- from the persuasive to the idiotic, including more than one where it's not clear what exactly is being sold.