Bold and Meaningful: How condom brands are keeping youngsters engaged on social media 

Since daytime TV ads are restricted, popular condom brands are seeking to break the taboo through Instagram and Twitter posts

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Updated: Nov 8, 2021 6:28 PM  | 7 min read
condom ad

“Guess who swings flies both ways now?,” condom brand Durex posted a picture on Instagram of Superman wearing a rainbow coloured robe with this phrase at the bottom. 

“There’s a new rainbow in the sky!”, Durex captioned the picture and posted along with hashtags #JonKent #Superman #DC #Bisexual #dccomics. 

 The ad got viral within hours with over one lakh followers of the Insta handle liking or commenting over the stuff in funny ways. 

The quick digital ad with rainbow colours is quite appealing and prompts followers to drive home some crucial points. 

It explains consumers in a subtle way that all of our sexualities are just there; that we don’t need an explanation for bisexuality (attraction towards both the sexes) or homosexuality (attraction for same sex) just as we don’t need one for heterosexuality (man and woman). 

Manforce, another popular condom brand, surprised everyone by its Insta ad on ‘No Bra Day’. Their simple yet powerful poster carried an open crimson red bra with a caption “Brrrrraaaaa”. 

Skore, a condom brand manufactured by TTK group, is also quite active on Instagram and shares tongue-in-cheek content to break the taboo around sex and pleasure that are still deemed “inapproriate” in conservative Indian society.  

Skore earns brownie points when it asks on Insta, “Are you ready to set out the beast in you? Stay tuned & get ready to #GetNaughtier.” 

Due to restrictions on condoms ads during the daytime, popular brands in India are seeking to break the taboo through Instagram and Twitter posts. The trend is in the nascent stage though. 

The government of India had issued a directive in December 2017 to all TV channels not to air condom advertisements between 6 am and 10 pm to avoid exposure of such material to children. The ban was, however, relaxed after a few days allowing ads that do not sexually objectify women and are aimed at informing citizens regarding devices, products, medical interventions to ensure safe sex to be shown during the daytime as well.

The sensual, bold and to-the-point digital ads are catching young consumers' attention by initiating a healthy talk around topics that hardly find any space in our society. 

The pleasure angle appears to be at the top of the communication for all brands on Instagram, the most popular social media platform. The freedom of social media is giving condom brands more flexibility to communicate about sexuality, pleasure, texture and flavour of condoms than what they can do in the newspaper ads or TV commercials. 

The digital marketing strategy coupled with collaborations with influencers has created a strong brand value in the market and increased the sales of condoms as well, sector experts say.  


Condom marketing a challenge


A lot of brainstorming goes behind the condom campaigns before release. Every creative has to undergo strict scrutiny before the release, say condom makers. 

Joy Chatterjee, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Mankind Pharma, that produces one of India’s top selling condom brands Manforce, says, “A proper strategy is must when it comes to talking about condoms in the Indian society. As a responsible brand, Manforce condom has always tried to break the condom/sex taboo and build awareness in the society about the condoms. Social media, in-film integration & airport branding have helped us a lot to connect with our consumers, especially youth.”

 “Social media has been a great platform for us to engage with our consumers, with the scope of narrow targeting we can connect with the right consumer with demographic, geographic & interests. Manforce Condoms is known for flavours and quality in the market. As a responsible brand in the category, we believe in spreading the message of safe sex, women pleasure and launched social ads/ campaigns as well to create awareness.”

Adds Manas Lahiri, Managing Director, Havas Worldwide (Creative) India, the creative agency of Durex,"The category largely suffers due to strong resistance to usage. Being bold is one thing, but being meaningful is more important. Social media is the best place to talk and listen and you have to be part of their discussions. Therefore, it’s important to innovate constantly to find the best way on how to engage with them."

"Some of our work on Durex is a demonstration of the same. It focuses on highlighting product stories, but also engages on issues such as how products can solve the resistance to usage, mutual orgasm or orgasm equality and so on. We believe that making these topics part of everyday discussions is a great way to also raise awareness among the youth on the importance of using condoms and thereby create loyalty to the brand," says Lahiri.


Brands must focus on social cause also

KV Shridhar, Global Chief Creative Officer at Nihilent & Hypercollective, appreciates the condom brands for coming up with meaningful communications with the young audience. 


“This is an early trend which is quite interesting. In a country like India which has over 1.3 billion population and a huge unmet need of contraceptives, a large number of child pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies, it's an irony that condom brands can’t advertise a birth control method freely and can’t put up condom vending machines.”

“Similary, there are so many restrictions on advertising sanitary napkins and putting up napkin vending machines although menstrual hygiene and pregnancy both are crucial for women’s health. Such conservatism in today’s times is uncalled for especially since India has been known for its liberal outlook since ages. Even some of our ancient temples display sexuality and sexual positions in no-holds-bar manner,” says Shridhar. 

Reminding Kamasutra condom TVC made by late Alyque Padmassee, Shridhar says, "Had that ad been made today, sentiments of some social media users would have surely hurt. They would have forced the advertisers to recall the ad and possibly to rename the product as well."


More innovation needed

Dilip Kadam, writer, producer and director of ad films, feature films and TV shows, stresses on more innovation in the condom campaigns to reach out to the left out population. 

“Communication through digital ads is a good starter. However, these campaigns can reach only one third population of India. We need to come up with more ideas to make people aware about the contraceptives such as street plays and public service announcements (PSA) on Televisions and in theatres before screening of the films. Creative teams must explore ideas for TVCs that carry social messages,” Kadam says.  

Shridhar also advises that the brands must now focus on creating specific ads catering to the needs of different sections of the society. 

“Teenagers in urban areas, under 18 married women in villages and sex workers have different needs compared to the middle and upper class women. These sections of the population can’t afford costly condoms,” Shridhar says. 


He further explains, “For example, teenagers who explore their sexuality but unaware of the pregnancy risks, need to be sensitised through digital ads about the use of contraceptives. They should have easy access to affordable condoms. There must be ads with a special focus on sex workers which can alert them about sexually tramsitted diseases as well.”


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