Couples have more options than ever when choosing the right contraception for their relationship: There are pills and patches, IUDs and surgeries, shots, diaphragms, and sponges. Recently, researchers have even made significant advances in the development of male contraception. All of the choices make the latex condom seem rather, well, old-fashioned—which is good reason for prophylactic pushers to give the condom a 21st century makeover.
Sir Richard’s, a condom startup whose slogan is “Doing good never felt better,” donates one condom for every condom bought on the shelf. The company has a clever ad campaign, to boot. Sir Richard’s, reports Fast Company’s Cliff Kuang, “is advertsing its wares not by promises of hair-pulling, nail-scratching pleasure, but rather economics. Simply put, it costs so much to have a damn kid that you better not have one by accident.” “Suggested Retail” stickers on the product packaging remind shoppers that a child's diapers cost more than $1,000 per year and that a Bugaboo stroller retails nearly $900. The company’s street advertisements mention the cost per year of sending a kid to college; in a stark font, the posters are inscribed with reminders like “The Dalton School - $35,300 per child/per year.” Ouch.
New York City recently unveiled a smart phone application called “NYC Condom Finder,” which uses your phone’s GPS to locate the nearest free-condom dispensary. “Considering that there are 3,000 such venues throughout the city,” writes Good’s Cord Jefferson, “it’s unlikely a person would ever be very far from a gratis prophylactic.”
One legitimate concern, applicable to both Sir Richard’s and the New York City Department of Health initiative, is that these marketing tricks may only resonate with affluent consumers, ostensibly those who’ve already received plenty of sex education and can afford smart phones. “[W]e’re seriously doubting that many unexpected parents end up with Bugaboos and tuition bills from Chapin,” writes Kuang. “Smart as the [Sir Richard's] campaign is, it probably needs more than a little of the everyman touch to truly be relevant. After all, having a kid is expensive, no matter if it’s a silver spoon or a tin spoon in their mouths.” In an ad campaign from a few years back, Trojan took that everyman approach and reminded men that if you’re not serious about contraception, you’ll get thrown into the pig pen.
Image courtesy of Sir Richard's.