• 2.17.15

    Viagra Changes the Conversation with Douglas Friedman

    Viagra, the little blue pill that has changed later life sexual health for millions of users and their partners, faces a particular advertising challenge. They need to convey their message to potential new users in a way that’s comfortable and safe. Erectile dysfunction is a complex issue, with so many men and women touched by its effects. It is an unwelcome guest in millions of relationships, each with their own unique architecture. While Viagra’s competitors focus on obtuse, metaphorical images, Viagra wanted to change the conversation. The problem was that no one was actually having a conversation.

    ED can cause serious tension in relationships when the issue is approached as a non-health concern, as if it were a secret, dark shadow cast between two people.  Millions of American men face ED every day, so there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a well trod conversational issue between mature adults. Viagra’s latest campaign worked to create this new conversation with photographer Douglas Friedman whose style and, both artistic and personal, was the perfect match to understand the new direction. “They’re trying to remove the stigma that Viagra is something that you whisper about,” says Douglas. “They want to make it something a little sexier, they want to make it a common, everyday conversation between a woman and her man. Remove the stigma.” So they recontextualized the entire conversation.

    Pulling the conversation out of the bedroom at home, Viagra and Douglas went to Ibiza, Spain utilizing one of the most glamorous backdrops in the world. They set up a series of shots, using luxurious set ups for this new conversation. “They wanted to create a series of provocative images, the scene being a beautiful woman in a beautiful room in a beautiful place with a beautiful view,” explains Douglas. By making the conversation inherently attractive, Viagra has shaped it so that the conversation includes nothing to fear. Connecting this vital communication with a host of appealing elements, the whole spin changes. And Douglas was the perfect choice to captain this shift.

    Douglas’ work as an interior photographer gave him the perfect baseline to bring in these new elements to Viagra’s story. “I do environmental portraits,” Douglas says, “where the environment is just as important as the subject.” Pairing these women with the striking environment, Viagra and Douglas were able to play off his expertise and create a whole new avenue for this crucial health issue.

    Douglas’ unique brand of humor set the perfect tone for the shoot. Although they were approaching a serious issue, Douglas is able to keep it light and energetic on set to keep everything moving. “It was hot and it was fun, and it was a sexy shoot. Everybody was in a great mood for it,” Douglas says. “It was challenging, but definitely a fun one.”

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