For the sake of conversation, I’m just going to come right out and say it.
I wear Magnum condoms. Have been for years. It’s a secret I’m both proud to share and shy to reveal. One time, my mom was visiting me at my apartment, and while she was helping me clean up, she found a Magnum wrapper. To this day, I don’t know if I was embarrassed by the fact that she found an empty wrapper or that the wrapper itself was of the shiny gold variety.
Like most men of color, I wear the Magnum not just as a precautionary matter, but also as a badge of honor. But after reading an article in today’s New York Times on a new advertising campaign Trojan (the company that distributes Magnums) is launching with Ludacris and Magnums, I’m beginning to feel a little differently; that maybe my Magnum purchases are not a big deal?
To wit here’s a quote from the story by Jim Daniels, vice president of marketing at Trojan:
“The Magnum brand is viewed as a positive lifestyle badge and positive symbol,” Mr. Daniels said. “And people are proud to show they have a Magnum condom — the large size really connotes a sense of ‘above-average prowess,’ let’s call it.”
But as the story’s writer, Andrew Adam Newman points out later, the Magnum is only connoting a myth.
For all the connotations, however, it turns out that Magnum is not so large. It is the same length as standard condoms, with the same circumference at its base, Mr. Daniels said. “Some people feel more comfortable with that width, but you don’t have to be an overly endowed man to use a Magnum and enjoy it,” he added.
My jaw dropped the minute I read this.
As someone who always prided himself as a Magnum man (not a Trojan man, a Magnum one), I feel like I’ve been given the okey-doke. Here I was for all these years thinking I had something special as evidenced by my big black box of golden wrapped contraceptives, only to find out there’s really nothing special about them at all. The only real magical power they have is preventing pregnancy, which is the same magical powers all condoms have, with mixed results.
The question is now since I know the truth about Magnums, do I continue to use them on the humble? My answer is a simple yes.
If there was one thing I always appreciated about Trojan, it is how deliberate they have been in targeting the very community that needs condoms. Just look at the packaging. The big black boxes, the shiny golden wrappers? Magnum condoms are packaged like Escalades. Anytime I have gone to a hip-hop themed event with Trojan as its sponsor, I see Magnum condoms practically everywhere for the taking. As the Times article notes, hip-hop music has played a huge role in the growth of Magnums (pun (sort of) iintended), and it is why Trojan has launched their Magnumlivelarge.com campaign, with Ludacris as its spokesperson.
At the center of the campaign is a contest, where participants go to MagnumLiveLarge.com to download base tracks, then record their own Magnum-themed lyrics and upload their entries. Visitors to the site will vote for their favorites, with the winner receiving $5,000 and a trip to Birthday Bash, a hip-hop festival on June 19 in Atlanta. At the show, the winner will be brought onstage by Ludacris and congratulated.
Is this an example of stereotyping? Absolutely, at it’s finest. But not to be alarmed, people. This is what we call positive stereotyping. Like Asians are always considered to be good at math, African-American men are commonly stereotyped with the tag of being well-endowed, and it’s a stereotype we are more than hap