Zestra Zapped

Zestra adYou’re a television ad exec. Would you accept a commercial for Zestra Essential Arousal Oils for women, described as a botanical aphrodisiac that promises “heightened sensitivity to touch?”

If you say yes, you’re one of the few. Even when they do, they don’t. The Oxygen Network limited exposure from midnight to 4 a.m. or to shows like “Bad Girl’s Club.” Facebook accepted ads and then abruptly yanked them.

The Zestra script is discrete, featuring midlife baby boomer women talking to the camera about how sex “doesn’t feel the way it used to” before children, and that their bodies don’t react “the same way when they were younger.”

Viagra and Cialis commercials are splashed all over TV, aimed largely at aging baby boomer males. Cialis has achieved pop culture immortality with its bold statement: “If you experience erections lasting four hours or more, consult your physician.”

So is the rejection of Zestra a double standard? Is this a women’s liberation issue? Networks refuse to give an explanation other than “we don’t advertise this category.”
Wasn’t all this settled in the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s and 70s?

Some suggest the issue is women’s embarrassment of their own sexuality. There’s evidence to back this up: network research indicates that female viewers change channels when erotic products are promoted directly to them.

Nonsense, say others. Here’s the issue: Zestra commercials hint that women can take the matter of sex into their own hands (literally). Men (the majority of television ad execs) find the idea of females satisfying Zestra promothemselves without male coupling threatening.

This concern could be the reason that manufacturers of vibrators, who have not yet approached TV, find resistance to their advertising in magazines and newspapers. A company founder says products intended for use by couples are easier to market than products pitched solely for women.

K-Y Jelly runs a a major TV advertising campaign. The product is described as a “warming lubricant” designed for a couple, at one time identified as Mr. & Mrs. Barlow. The latest is a “His” and “Hers” lubricant packaged together as “Yours & Mine.” There’s no mention of dysfunction or dissatisfaction, only an opportunity for enhancement.

A recommendation for Zestra: add a man with a wedding ring sitting next to a woman (with matching ring) giving a testimonial without any hint of “problems.” The husband doesn’t have to utter a word, just hold a smiling, satisfied expression.

Terry Hamburg writes Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.

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