Tax season can be a trying time for many people — a 2011 OfficeMax survey called “Tax it to Me” found that four in 10 people would rather give themselves a haircut than file their taxes.
This is where companies like Trojan, a company known for its distribution of condoms and sex toys, come in. April 12, the Friday before tax filing day, hundreds of people in San Francisco were abuzz about a promotion by Trojan Condoms that gives away free vibrators to those who have claimed to have filed their taxes. Over a four-hour period, from 12 to 4 p.m., 3,000 vibrators were given away to people that needed a little extra relief from tax season.
According to Nyla Saleh, vice president at Edelman, a public relations firm, Trojan is just trying to help alleviate the stress that comes from tax season.
In 2011, a poll from Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that tax day was the second-most stressful day of the year, being beat out for first by a string of tornadoes in the south that year that caused $11 billion in damages and had over 300 casualties.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to connect with the consumer,” Saleh said. “We’ve found the tie between tax day and stress, and we figured that giving out free vibrators would get people buzzing.”
Cristina Anderson, member of SF State’s sexual health advocacy group Peer Educators Advocating Campus Health (PEACH), feels that giving out vibrators can give people that extra nudge to alleviate stress they may be carrying.
“A vibrator will definitely help ease the stress of tax season,” Anderson said. “Masturbation is a stress reliever that will encourage people to ease some of that tension they may be carrying about taxes.”
SF State students, such as Amaury Perez, a junior apparel design and merchandising major, traveled to The Box SF in SOMA in pursuit of a free vibrator. Tax paying citizens, such as Perez, had the choice between two models: Pulse, which is valued at $29.99 and Tri-Phoria, valued at $39.99.
Perez, poised at the front of the line a little after 12 p.m., came for a tax return of his own.
“Clearly, I came for a free vibrator,” Perez said. “It’s free, so why not? My tax return wasn’t that big, so I’ll take free things when I see them.”
But Trojan isn’t the only company giving out freebies for those who have done their taxes — businesses such as Cinnabon, Arby’s, and AMC Theatres gave away free products on the deadline to file taxes, April 15. Other businesses such as Panda Express, HydroMassage, Chili’s and the San Francisco Zoo are giving out free goods and services throughout the week as well.
But some students, such as Rebecca Taylor, a senior nursing student at SF State, are skeptical of all the handouts happening this week.
“The promotions are there to get people to spend more money on big businesses,” Taylor said. “I think they are aimed at getting people’s tax returns.”
And for those who do not find solace in free goods and services, SF State Prevention Education Specialist Vincent Lam believes that the pathway to less stress and good mental health is self care.
“Self care is about being able to acknowledge what the source of your stress is, and to treat yourself based on that,” Lam said. “Self care isn’t the same for everyone, because everybody has a different experience.”