Woman Have the Power!

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In addition to their branded campaign work highlighting their lineup of exciting SKUs and reinforcing their “Love Sex” positioning, Durex has now entered into the realm of behavior change communications only previously seen by non-commercial entities, such as governments and NGOs. This month, in partnership with Havas Worldwide London, they have launched a campaign called “When It’s On, It’s On,” aimed at tackling some of the stigmas youth face when considering using a condom – and the small study they conducted to launch the campaign showcases some surprising insights.

In a short spot called “When It’s On, It’s On,” the brand holds several brief qualitative focus groups to engage youth on why they might not use a condom, their feelings about when a condom is introduced into sex, etc. The aim of the campaign is to bring back the dialogue about condom use amongst youth and to overcome any misconceptions regarding use, the spread of STIs, and unplanned pregnancies. As Mark Pearson, spokesperson from Durex, said:

“Young people often have no idea what the opposite is really thinking, and by clueing them in we’ve unearthed a massive misconception. […] We were also surprised to find that there were a lot of misconceptions surrounding the risks of not using a condom. It’s important to us as a brand to correct this, and provide a trusted source of information for young people.”

The results were eye opening. 40% of the respondents (16-24s) have had sex with more than one person without a condom, meanwhile 61% said they don’t think about condoms until they actually needed one.

A rather shocking 86% of those surveyed said that STIs (not including HIV and AIDs) weren’t their main concern; moreover, about 25% said that their biggest concern about unprotected sex is that it could land them with an unwanted pregnancy, which supports the growth in alternative forms of birth control.

Shockingly, nearly half (48%) believe contracting HIV or AIDS is not something that could happen in their friendship group.

Most importantly, the spot highlights the fact that while most guys would prefer to get away without using a condom, if a woman pulls out a condom, they are overwhelmingly turned on by this and are OK with it. As Pearson puts it:

Naturally safe sex should be both partners’ responsibility, but what we learned from lots of young men during the research is that girls are very much the gatekeepers – what they say goes. Young women told us that while they knew that they should insist on a condom every time, the reality is often when the moment comes, a condom isn’t used for any number of reasons…One common reason we heard was that they worried that if they insisted on a condom they’d kill the mood or put the guy off. This fear of rejection or killing the mood is a key barrier for many young women but we found out that this most often isn’t the case at all. In fact the opposite is true.


To respond to the results of the focus groups, Durex has also launched an online micro site (check it out here) to share some supportive materials to those interested in learning a bit more about how their potential partners might feel.

While the learning’s are not surprising – most youth in the developed world are substituting condom use for STI/STD testing and alternate forms of birth control – it does position Durex again in a different light that is more supportive of its users and not just about passionate sex – it rounds out their offering to both a functional and truly emotional benefit. Durex is positioning themselves as the nurturers of safe and exciting sex, something we could all learn from in our efforts to improve condom work around the region.

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