Condom advertising has had an interesting history, with purveyors of prophylactics around the world employing a variety of marketing approaches over the decades.
While sex has seldom troubled mainstream television, sexual health promotion has always run into issues. It wasn’t until the 80s, as a result of the AIDS epidemic, that condom commercials started appearing on television, and they took a very straightforward and scary approach with their messaging.
For example, in a 1987 Australian TV ad for LifeStyles condoms, a woman sombrely stares into the camera and says, “I never thought having an intimate relationship could be a matter of life or death.” In another ad for LifeStyles she says, “I’ll do a lot for love, but I’m not ready to die for it.”
More recently, condom advertising has taken a shift from solemnity to humour in its approach.
In 2013, a cheeky condom ad by Four Seasons’ was banned from Australian TV for having “too many sexual references”. The ad was aimed to appeal to a younger demographic and was the closest a condom ad has come (ahem) to showing the product in action.
In the ad, a young Australian couple enquires about condoms in a pharmacy and try on a few sizes of Four Seasons’ Naked line in various sexual positions while everyone in the store watches. The ad was barred from the airwaves but went viral on Facebook.
2019 saw the release of the bonkers “Bush Barbie” ads created by Moments Condoms, where comedian Nikki Osborne plays Bush Barbie—think Sophie Monk meets Steve Irwin meets Russell Coight. In the ad, Bush Barbie leaps around the bush in her khaki mini skirt, spreading the message of the importance of “Whacking a dinger on ya donger.”
Today, LifeStyles Australia has ushered in a dramatically different, fresh era of condom marketing. Their new campaign—Publicly Traded, has been inspired by the stock market and aims to incentivise safer sex by tracking STI searches in real-time and using that data to drive dynamic pricing for LifeStyles condoms online.
The platform works by gathering real-time Google search data related to six of the most commonly searched STIs in Australia: chlamydia, HIV, syphilis, herpes, gonorrhoea and HPV. The “STI Index” includes the name, the infections, key symptoms, adjacent search terms (eg., painful urination) and recent news or studies related to the infection. The data is presented on PubliclyTraded.com.au as graphic visuals reminiscent of stock market charts and gives you an indication of what STIs might be on the rise or decline. Essentially, the higher the STI Index, the lower the price of LifeStyles condoms.
Well, you know what they say, gentlemen prefer bonds.