American condom ads might be the corniest commercials around, but we take the brand recognition for granted. In Pakistan, those same eye-rollingly sensual TV spots are making a major impact on safe sex, family planning, and STD prevention.
How do you make a conservative religious nation think contraceptives are cool? Josh Condoms took a cue from punk rock: Piss off the censors. Here is the company’s recent commercial, starring Pakistani supermodel Mathira, that was deemed “unconstitutional” by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority:
The insinuation of oral sex was enough to send Pakistani censors into a tizzy. The ad was pulled and Josh Condoms couldn’t be happier. Under the guise of the Trojan-esque contraceptive is DKT International, an NGO dedicated to putting reproductive health products in the hands of countries in need. According to a report on Slate, the media frenzy surrounding the ad turned DKT’s flavored condoms into a must-have item, and most importantly, one that could be advertised in stores. When was the last time you went all the way to your local health clinic for a contraceptive?
The subversive marketing technique seems to be working:
“The approach has made DKT, which markets subsidized condoms in Pakistan and 18 other countries, the largest private provider of contraception and family planning in the developing world. Last year alone, DKT sold at least 600 million condoms, 76 million cycles of birth control pills, 16 million injectable contraceptives, and 1.5 million IUDs. In 2011, DKT estimated that its services and products prevented 7 million unwanted pregnancies and 11,000 maternal deaths.”
DKT has ads running across the globe, and the philosophy is the racier the better. Here’s one from Ghana that wouldn’t even make it past U.S. censors.
Read more about NKT’s condom outreach on Slate.
Matt Patches is a writer and reporter living in New York City. His work has been featured on New York Magazine’s Vulture, Film.com, Hollywood.com, MTV, and he is the host of the pop culture podcast Operation Kino. He continues to love Groundhog Day.