33 Years Ago, Baltimore Freaked Out Over This Orgy Advertisement

Using shock to raise awareness of teen pregnancy

In the era before the internet, the idea of kids asking questions like this was pretty shocking. - Credit by Planned Parenthood
Headshot of Robert Klara

When it comes to the birds and the bees, most people would agree that a talk between parents and their children is a good idea. Of course, nudging mom and dad to start that squirmy discussion is another matter entirely. Three decades ago, Planned Parenthood devised a novel way to try. In the fall of 1986, billboards and bus posters popped up around Baltimore featuring an inquisitive pre-pubescent boy posing the question: “What’s an Orgy?”

Adweek, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, was among the many media outlets to say uh-oh over this one. Though the tagline made clear the campaign’s noble intent (“If your kids aren’t asking you, they may be asking for trouble”), Baltimore nevertheless “erupted” over the ads, we reported in our September 15 issue.

Why had Planned Parenthood chosen Baltimore? Charm City’s charming behavior had resulted in America’s highest teen pregnancy rate.


@UpperEastRob robert.klara@adweek.com Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.
Publish date: May 17, 2019 https://stage.adweek.com/brand-marketing/33-years-ago-baltimore-freaked-out-over-this-orgy-advertisement/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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