A Tale of Two Marketing Strategies

Posted on January 11, 2017


Since DVR’s came into common usage, I rarely see commercials anymore.  If I do, it is either 1) in the gym (no audio), 2) during a football game (sadly watching the Chargers fall apart), or 3) the first commercial in the break is interesting enough to grab my attention before I can get to the remote (this can actually happen when you so rarely see them).  In the second case (during football games), one largely sees truck[1], beer, and ED med commercials[2].

The ED med commercials promote two main brands, Viagra and Cialis.  They have two very different marketing approaches.  Viagra features an attractive women gazing suggestively into the camera and touting the benefits of having a man who can perform when the time comes.  If you will forgive the somewhat crass cliché, their marketing message is “a hard man is good to find.”  Sex is about performance, not relationship.

Cialis generally shows a middle aged or older couple communicating with facial expressions and touch that the spark is still alive in their relationship.  The message is that as they age together, they can still enjoy an active sex life together.  I still don’t get the whole side by side outdoor bathtubs, but apart from that, they are beautiful commercials[3] when you don’t have the audio.

I present these thoughts, not because I endorse either product, but to point out the different views of satisfying sexuality.  Culturally, sexuality has become about performance, physical perfection, and achieving a higher high.  If this is your paradigm, meds cannot stop the ultimate decline of your sex life.  You may look like Barbie and Ken when you get married, but eventually time will take its toll and you won’t look like that anymore.  Further, the years will impact your performance (but more about that in a bit).

If sex is instead about intimacy, connection, and mutual pleasure, it can improve over a lifetime together.  The longer you are together, the more you can enjoy the experience of knowing and being fully known.  My assertion is that this is the more satisfying experience.  As a therapist, I hear the intimate details of couples’ lives.  This is an informed opinion.

I am not a physician.  However, I think many of the men who take these meds could do just fine with a placebo or none at all.  I would do a web search to see what research has been done on ED meds vs. placebos, but I don’t want to see the ads I would start getting.  But I digress.

For my female readers, let me clue you in on the male anatomy.  If a man is worried about his erection, it is going to be a problem.  If he is worried about being able to perform, his ideal sexual fantasy is not going to bring it about.  The more he frets about it, the more that this works against him.  If he is having difficulty obtaining or sustaining an erection, it is not his body’s editorial comment on your desirability.  The best thing you can do to help him is to be okay with whatever happens.  Chances are that when he quits putting pressure on himself, his body will respond.

For my male readers, let’s reset some expectations.  As we age, we take longer to get an erection and we may not be quite as turgid as we were when we were young.  This is generally only a problem if you let it mess with your head.  At age 20, you may have been blue steel at the first sexual thought.  In your 50’s and 60’s, it may take you a little longer to get going.  This is a normal part of the aging process.

Looping back to my earlier point, if sex is about intimacy, connection, and mutual pleasure, the impact of male aging does not have to diminish the experience.  It can, in fact, improve.  Once the kids are grown and the nest is empty, what’s your rush anyway?

[1] Just as an aside, does anyone know anyone who talks like the voice actors in truck commercials?  I sure don’t.

[2] As a further aside, if the ED is a problem, you might try cutting back on the beer and see if that helps.  Though alcohol might lower one’s inhibitions, it is a depressant and can contribute to that difficulty.

[3] Particularly if you are a marital therapist and enjoy seeing couples in love