Though you’re likely to find them in most bedside drawers, wallets or back pockets around the world, condoms are a tricky product to advertise. The little latex device with the simple but vital mission, despite having been around for 400-odd years in some form or another (we’ve moved on a bit since the lamb intestine version), is still controversial to many in its existence, and hence also promotion.
The reasons are numerous – social, religious, environmental even – and mean that advertisers have a tightrope of dos and don’ts to negotiate; stray too far in the don’t direction and the advert is banned (which happens with frequency) but play it too safe and they run the risk of being a bit of a turn-off.
Difficulty also comes from the fact that condoms don’t only imply sex but also its by products, which range from babies, or rather prevention of, to sexually transmitted diseases, or protection against, and most recently, enhanced pleasure or ‘performance’ in the use of various types.
It’d be nigh on impossible to encapsulate all three messages in one advert, but advertisers don’t balk at the prospect of a difficult subject. If anything it provides an opportunity to flex creative muscles and push boundaries and it’s maybe no surprise condom adverts are often the recipient of industry awards. Or banned. And on the odd occasion both.
More often than not humour is a key component, side stepping the uglier subject of STDs and playing towards many people’s still prudish feelings towards sex, encouraging a bit of a giggle at the whole topic instead. At worst this can mean childish or cheesy but at best, with a bit of subtlety and a strong image, they can be very good.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourites from around the world to show the breadth of how they’re tackled (above) with varying degrees of success and quizzed Anna Valle, head of group marketing at Durex to get to grips with the slippery subject.