Johnson & Johnson's KY Plus (containing nonoxynol-9, the brand is now discontinued) debuted in gay media back in 1996.
The following year the company followed up with this suggestive ad for KY Liquid, which says "H2Ohhhh" -- suggesting a sexual moaning sound. The print ad has now been around consistently in gay media for years.
K-Y's product director, Francisco Verwoerd, says J&J targets the market because "gay men are an important part of our consumer base and there is strong demand for a high quality personal lubricant that is also compatible with condoms. K-Y Brand Liquid meets this demand."
Verwoerd adds that there was no concern about entering a previously taboo market with sexual products, even from within a conservative drug industry. "We are one of the world’s largest healthcare companies and it is our responsibility to provide the best healthcare products to consumers who need them," he says.
Currently, despite its years long presence, the company does not conduct specific research on the market. "K-Y Brand has more than 50 percent of the personal lubricant market," the Verwoerd says. "While we know that our advertising has increased gay consumers’ awareness of our latest formulation, K-Y Brand Liquid, we don’t differentiate sales figures. Women comprise our largest consumer base for K-Y Brand Liquid, but gay men are also an important segment. K-Y Brand Plus has been discontinued. K-Y Brand Jelly remains one of our core products used primarily by medical professionals."
Although women are the main demographic, K-Y Liquid ads have appeared in general interest men's magazines including Details, GQ
and Men's Fitness
, alternative weekly city papers, as well as national and local gay media.
In 2002, K-Y Brand Liquid began ads with a sweepstakes to win two round-trip airline tickets for travel within the continental U.S. -- it supports K-Y Liquid's single-use packets, which are an easy to pack item and often used for travel.