Trojan Tackles Abstinence-Only Sex Ed With a Giant Billboard Made of Chewed Gum

72andSunny lampoons a sexual-shaming metaphor

Who needs high-tech holograms or Hollywood-quality sets and special effects to create a memorable social-issues installation—when 50,000 pieces of chewed-up, spit-soaked gum will get your point across just fine? 

On Oct. 30, Trojan condoms—with 72andSunny New York and nonprofit Advocates for Youth—staged a "chew-a-thon" on the National Mall in Washington, inviting passersby to add chomped-up pieces of gum to a most unappetizing wall display. 

For the icky installation, the team spent two weeks placing gum on the wall. (The ad biz is so glamorous!) On Oct. 30, agency folks and members of the public added several thousand fresh pieces. (Well, not "fresh," exactly.) 

"You are not chewed gum," says the headline on the ad. 

That's a reference to the kind of sexual shaming that happens in abstinence-only sex education. Specifically, teachers have been known to chew gum, show it to their students, and ask if anyone would want it after it's been chewed—a metaphor for sexually active teens. 

"These lessons do nothing but harm young people by reinforcing harmful ideology and stifling honest discussion about sexuality," Advocates for Youth says on its website. "Students need quality sex education that teaches them real information and skills."

The group supports instruction about condoms, contraception and healthy relationships, and seeks to cut government funding for abstinence-only programs. (It takes issue with other abstinence metaphors—such as spitting into papers and tearing up paper hearts—in a series of "trading cards" on its website.)

"Trojan is a brand built on sex positivity and accurate information," says 72andSunny group creative director Tony Kalathara. "So when we heard young adults were being taught sex in schools through shameful metaphors like chewed pieces of gum, we had to take a stance."


Client: Church and Dwight - Trojan Brand Condoms
Creative Agency: 72andSunny New York
Production: Design Foundry
PR: Global Communication Works & BioScience Communications (Edelman)
Social/Digital: Publicis Sapient
Media: Wavemaker Global

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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