Condom Branding Campaign Sucks!

We’re really disappointed with the marketing of these Pharmac (Government) funded condoms.  We first came across them in our sexual assault service over a year ago, and were so incensed that we got rid of them.  They reappeared in our resident GP’s practice last week, and were also spotted at a Sexual Health Forum meeting. 

We spend a substantial amount of time promoting healthy, consensual, respectful sexual relationships.  We try to counter the gender stereotypes that men are dominant and women are submissive.  We've asked a variety of patients and colleagues for their thoughts and not one of them thought that "TAKE CHARGE" was an appropriate message to be on a condom wrapper.

We wrote to Pharmac in March last year.  We were advised to email the supplier and visit their website "for more information and context around the messaging on their packaging".  We were also told that our feedback had been passed onto "the relevant people in the organisation to be considered for future decision making".

On 24th of March last year we wrote to the company who produce them, who told us we’d got it all wrong and we should look at their website and social media to improve our understanding of their "branding pillars".  Whatever that means. 

Frankly we doubt anyone can be bothered to visit a website to figure out which person is being instructed to take charge, or if there might be a more sensitive, nuanced explanation to the red shouty writing on the wrapper. What ever way you look at it, they are being yelled at to “TAKE CHARGE” in the relationship.  

It’s ironic that they have decided to market their product to women and when women tell them we hate their marketing, and it makes us want to throw out their product, they tell us that we just don’t understand their marketing and need to do some more research. 

We let it go, assisted by Covid-itis.  But now we’re livid again and wondering if we’re being unreasonable or if any of you have any suggestions on how we can get the right people to take notice?

Should we ask pharmacies not to stock them?  Can we ensure that we order another brand? Can we lobby someone (who Pharmac will actually listen to) somewhere at a national level? Can you use your social media presence to make some kind of noise about how inappropriate they are?  Do we have a journalist who can publicly out them?  

Or do we just need to take a deep breath?

(The only silver lining is a young woman told us men don't like this brand of condoms and will only use them if she has no other option available.)