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Now you can have advance warning on those erectile dysfunction ads

October 12, 2010 | 12:42 pm

Wondering where the next erectile dysfunction ad will appear on television and whether you'll have to have an awkward conversation with your kid? Well, the Parents Television Council is here to help.

The media advocacy group founded to "ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media" is working with pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly & Co. (Cialis) and Pfizer (Viagra) to provide a warning to consumers on when and where commercials for their pills will appear.

VIAGRA The two companies have agreed to provide the PTC with schedules of what shows their spots will be running in every week. The schedules will only cover broadcast television, not cable TV, which is where most kids do the majority of their viewing.

"This is an important first step in addressing the concerns many parents have about advertisements for erectile dysfunction drugs," said PTC President Tim Winter.

This will be no easy undertaking for Eli Lilly and Pfizer. Usually, advertisers have media companies buy their commercial time and such purchases are made in bulk and not in individual shows. The buys are designed to hit a certain number of viewers in what demographic the advertiser seeks and often the client does not know until after the fact what shows their spots actually appeared in.

Racy ads for erectile dysfunction drugs have always been controversial. Last year, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) wrote to the chief executives of Pfizer and Lilly asking them to tone down the spots and limit where they appear. He has tried unsuccessfully to introduce legislation that would force such ads to appear after 10 p.m. Usually, commercials for Viagra and Cialis can be found during news programming and sports events, both of which attract a large number of males over the age of 50.

Even if the PTC is successful in getting advance notice of Viagra spots on television, the drug companies are also big sponsors of sporting events and it's not unusual for them to find other ways to get their products exposure on television without having to buy ads.

-- Joe Flint

Photo Credit:Toby Talbot/Associated Press.