Trojan wants to take the vibrator conversation mainstream. If you think it's already mainstream, Trojan proved you wrong today when so many people showed up for their vibrator giveaway in New York that the publicity stunt was disrupted, and carts full of vibrators emptied in minutes. If vibrators were actually mainstream, no one would have snickered at this event on Twitter or in the media and probably not nearly as many people would have showed up to claim one.
The concept of giving away 10,000 vibrators in two days was interesting enough to the press that everyone from Howard Stern to the New York Post covered the event. They helped get the word out to many more people than Trojan expected to actually care, and the giveaway stations around the cities got so swarmed that the company is now uncertain of whether they'll be able to continue the campaign as planned tomorrow.
Apparently street teams giving things away from the sorts of "hot dog carts" Trojan was using do not usually need permits from the city. However so many people flocked to them (Trojan posted the carts' locations to their Facebook page) that the city decided they needed permits after all. When I stopped by 22nd St. and 5th Ave. not long after the giveaway began there this afternoon, the cart had been emptied (each only holds about 150 vibrators). A robust line, maybe about 50, eager men and women (but mostly women) were lining up to give their email addresses to purple shirt-wearing Trojan reps who promised to get these people their vibrators somehow, some way. In fact, they might even mail the vibrators to them.
The crowd at 22nd and Fifth quickly attracted two cops, who instructed the Trojan reps to move their massive line closer to the side of a building, out of the way of pedestrian sidewalk traffic. Once they found out what was going on, they chuckled and put their names on the list for free vibrators, too. A passerby asked me what the line was for. "They're giving away vibrators," I said. He winced and practically ran away from me.
So why did so many women go out of their way for the free sex toys? Providing definitive answers is impossible. But, a few theories:
• Women don't want to invest $50 in a device devoted to their personal sexual pleasure.
• Free stuff!!!! Everyone loves free stuff.
• People wouldn't think to go out of their way to buy vibrators but hey, if they're free, take advantage of that lunch hour and go for it?
• The massive publicity surrounding this event only reminded women that they aren't getting off nearly as much as they want to, thus lighting a fire under their asses to go and get some free assistance with the matter. There is a lot of bad sex out there as an entire genre of memoirs and many TV series have exploited.
• There's something empowering about going out of one's way for a free vibrator. Like: "How was your day?" "Great! I got a free vibrator out of a hot dog cart." You would never brag about getting free condoms, which are pretty easy to come by these days (in New York at least).
• The vibrator conversation is starting to go mainstream so when women heard "10,000 free vibrators" they thought, "Oh, I need one of those! And I'll happily wait in line on the street for it."
And then there's the matter of why this was all so hilarious/scary to so many people. Do vibrators and the women who want them really freak people out so much that they feel compelled to flee the scene of a hot dog cart carrying a hundred of them? Maybe what's actually freaky is that the giveaway served as a reminder that many women have a hard enough time attaining sexual satisfaction — whether they're getting laid or not — that they want a mechanical device to help.
But if more women are seeking greater sexual satisfaction? Fabulous, I say. A lot of them have a hard time getting it so whatever makes it easier — vibrators out of a hot dog cart, say — great. Let's not be so sneer-y about it.