Last week when our pal Ad Nut wrote about a fun campaign from Skyn condoms in Japan (see "Condom brand goes for the soft sell"), it got us thinking back fondly to some prophylactic promotions of the past. So for Valentine's Day, we've compiled a frisky festival of 10 favourites from recent years.
As you might expect, this product category tends to draw out fun ideas. The list below is presented in no particular order except that we tried to space out all the examples from Durex. We can't help it that the brand is so masterful at its marketing, no matter which market it's working in or what agency is helping out.
Apologies to those without a penis, this is kind of a members-only collection, which isn't surprising given the product. Unfortunately, it's also a heteronormative collection, and we can't actually remember seeing any condom advertising specifically referencing any kind of sexual expression other than the straight kind. If you've seen any examples, please let us know by sending us feedback.
Now, let's get it on.
Prepare yourself for three delighful films about being prepared
We start all the way back in 2013 with a campaign from Durex, which wanted to tell young people in Singapore and Malaysia about the importance of being prepared. It did so in three really great films about young adults who folllow the Boy Scout motto. The agency was Ihub Media. The window below will play all three films, and we won't spoil them any further.
What if STIs were tracked like stocks?
The 'Publicly traded' campaign for Lifestyles, which hit Australia in 2020, offered discounts on condoms when internet searches for info on sexually transmitted diseases surged.
FCB Six New York spearheaded he campaign, which used real-time Australian search activity to generate stock-style charts about STIs, making condoms more affordable when and where STIs seemed to be on the rise.
Never fear, Performan is here
In 2013, Durex Hong Kong created an extraordinarily cheesy 12-minute superhero flick to promote its Performa line. Sorry, non-Cantonese speakers, there are no subtitles. But go to the 6:20 mark and you'll get the idea. At critical moments, Performan's lady-friend tosses him a special disc-shaped object. Then he stands erect and gets sheathed in a cylinder-shaped layer of protection. Then he proceeds to pound away on all manner of threatening baddies, protecting both he and his love interest from threats. There's a case study film if you're interested.
Sometimes it's better blindfolded
Blindfolded lovers were asked to identify their partners only by touch in this 2021 Japan campaign for Skyn Condoms by UltraSuperNew Tokyo. Fortunately—or unfortunately, depending on your personal fondness for voyeurism—the only body parts involved are hands. Nonetheless, the resulting video is actually kind of hot.
Durex shows Australia, and the world, the future of foreplay
Durex Australia and Havas Worldwide Sydney achieved a global earned-media coup with the launch of 'Fundawear', a prototype line of underwear that allowed couples to touch each other over the internet. While this seems like a concept made for pandemic lockdowns, it actually comes a more innocent time (2013) and was about nothing more than fun and excellent brand promotion.
Hey, kids, watch this while mommy and daddy go...
Australia's Four Seasons Condoms, working with Marcel Sydney and Paris, dreamed up 'The Extendables', an animated show designed to keep kids busy while their parents snuck off for some much-needed sexy time. The idea of the 2017 campaign was that parents could plop put the kiddies down in front of a laptop to watch the show, head off to do their thing, and get a warning via a smartphone if the youngsters lost interest in the show and wandered away from the laptop. If all went well, however, parents could hit a button to extend the programme even longer. Of course it was all a promotional gag, and the fine print actually warned that parents should never leave their kids unattended.
Roving ‘erectometer’ drives vaccination rates in Sydney
Last fall, a giant mobile billboard created by Durex's in-house team displayed real-time vaccination data for New South Wales. A phallic symbol pointed to key vaccination milestones and promised 'vax climax' once 80% of residents were fully vaccinated. The truck crew handed out free condoms to those who were already fully vaxxed.
Parents pressure their kids to have more sex
Citing research showing younger Australians were having 50% less sex than their forebears, Four Seasons Condoms and CHE Proximity in 2020 launched the ‘Generation Intervention’ campaign. The work encouraged parents to act as 'surrogate sex therapists' by checking in with their grown-up kids to make sure they were getting enough action. The campaign included a sexologist-approved kit, containing ice-breaker cards, three sizes of condoms, lubricant, female pleasure gel and a vibrating toy. In addition to social and OOH, the campaign also included extremely cringey live 'interventions' with online influencers.
Okamoto tried to help Singaporeans ‘Get away with it’
In 2011, the Japanese condom brand Okamoto launched The Okamoto Freedom Project to help Singaporeans 'Get better at getting away with it'. Among the campaign's giveaways was 'Urban Camouflage', a skin designed to fit the inside windows of three popular car models. By presenting a picture of the car's empty interior to the outside world, the item supposedly allowed those inside to do as they pleased without being seen. The campaign also included a drinks coaster whose top layer could be peeled back to reveal a hidden condom. Night-club goers who ordered a 'Nightcap' at certain bars received the special coaster. The campaign was executed by Bite Communications Singapore and TBWA Singapore.
'Huntsman' was not a real condom brand, but a lot of people thought it was
In 2016, a new brand of condoms called Huntsman appeared on the scene, specifically targeting hunters. But after drumming up interest from the hunting community for months, it was revealed that the brand was actually a prank pulled off by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which aimed to stop hunters from reproducing as a long-term way to reduce violence toward animals. MullenLowe Singapore worked with the organisation on the campaign. As our furry ad critic Ad Nut wrote at the time, "one has to admire the long-game PETA played in marketing this product for months before jumping out of the proverbial trees and shouting 'AH HAH! GOT YOU!'"