Durex Launches First Condom Emoji

2408823_CondomEmoji_-_fingersSex is global and so are emojis. But there’s something missing. How about an official #CondomEmoji? (Photo: Durex®)

Durex is doubling down on its efforts to become the champion of safe sex for today’s youth target (see “when It’s On, It’s On” in my October 26, 2015 “Women Have the Power!” post) by furthering their stake as an advocate for safe sex.  Their “When It’s On, It’s On” BCC campaign to drive awareness of condom efficacy and to break down barriers against use is getting a boost with the announcement that they will be sponsoring the introduction of the worlds first condom emoji.

Based on research, Durex has uncovered some obvious but overlooked insights that are driving this effort:

  • 80% of 18-25 year olds find it easier to express themselves using emojis and more than half of respondents regularly using emojis when discussing sex
  • 84% of 18-25 year olds said they feel more comfortable talking about sex using emojis
  • More than one-third of 18-25 year olds claim not to care about safe sex and nearly half think that HIV will never affect them or their friends*

The research supports the introduction of an emoji to engage in the conversation around safe sex, something that is uncomfortable for youth to do in person but find much easier through SMS.

“Many young people have gained their sexual knowledge through their own sexual activity and searching the internet,” explains Dr. Mark McCormack, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Co-Director, Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities at Durham University, UK. “While participants generally felt able to discuss safe sex within their romantic relationships, there was more uncertainty with new or potential partners. Eighty percent welcomed the idea of the emoji to make the discussion of safe sex easier and more fun.”**

According to Karen Chisholm, Marketing Director of Durex USA:

“In light of this research, the Durex brand is asking 1 million people to use and share the hashtag #CondomEmoji to represent their support of the creation of the world’s first official safe sex emojis by the Unicode Consortium.  Emojis of this sort will enable young people to overcome embarrassment around the discussion of safe sex, encourage conversation and raise awareness of the importance of using condoms in protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV and AIDS.”

Moreover, Durex is taking this effort global with a PR stunt, launching their submission to the Unicode Consortium (the governing body of emoji’s) on World AIDS Day this coming December 1st. In the meantime, Durex has launched videos on YouTube in a variety of countries around the world (look up #condomemoji) to drive awareness and support for the submission.

Above: The emoji teaser video to garner support for the Unicode submission.

The emoji launch will be fun to watch, although it might be unclear how to track its efficacy in improving condom use among youth.  Despite minor innovations in condom technology, we still see some of the basic barriers to condom use being ignored by the governing bodies such as the FDA (for more on the failure of the Gates Initiative to revolutionize condoms, read this).  But the hope is that condoms become more central to the conversation of sex, and Durex’s strategy of a strong and compelling BCC campaign supported by a strong product line up with an exciting brand proposition will likely gain some traction.


*Source: Someone Like Me, VIMN & Brand Solutions Insight with Tapestry Research, 2014

**Source: Young People’s Attitudes Toward and Discussion of Safe Sex and Condom Use, 2015. Author: Dr. Mark McCormack, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Co-Director, Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities at Durham University, UK

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