Breaking Barriers with Award-Winning Communication
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Get to Know RFSU
Founded in 1933, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education – or Riksförbundet för sexuell upplysning (RFSU), in Swedish – is a non-profit organisation with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the right to free abortion. The organisation aims to increase knowledge and openness on sexuality issues, promoting the view that everyone should have the freedom to be who they are, to choose, and to enjoy. RFSU is the owner of RFSU AB, which sells condoms, personal lubricants, sex toys and pregnancy tests.
Dear Condom and Dear Condom II
It’s a campaign that would go on to be recognised as the 12th best PR campaign (by the world’s biggest PR awards program) in the world that year. But it started with a statistic. Or rather, two.
80% of Scandinavians say that they like to use a condom when they have sex with someone new. Only 50% make it happen. Our task for our client RFSU was to do something about this – to close the condom gap.
The success of this campaign “Dear Condom” and its follow-up “Dear Condom II” was owed not just to powerful film concepts that resonate with the target market; the campaigns also went against the grain of traditional media strategies – and yielded striking results.
Most importantly, they achieved what they set out to do: increase the use of condoms in the Nordics.
The film that started a movement
In a world where condoms are often belittled or made the subject of jokes, we chose to instead make the condom sexy. How? By being brutally honest. To shine a spotlight on the positives of condoms, we would first need to make it apparent that we know there are many negatives as well.
Dear Condom is a raw and honest portrayal of the love-hate relationship many people have with condoms. In a film that resembles a music video more than a brand film, we see a range of different sexual partners in an array of intimate contexts. The tension. The awkwardness. The excitement. It’s all there: palpable – and beautifully captured.
As it builds towards its climax, the statements made in the voiceovers – which are based on real interviews with young Scandinavians – shift from being disparaging about condoms to expressing a range of positive sentiments.
To deepen the conversation, we created an online portal where we continued the brutal honesty. Along with the film, visitors could watch video snippets featuring well-known couples and friends sharing their unfiltered views on sex and condoms. Our frank and honest approach clearly struck a chord amongst youth.
Making the film was one thing. Getting it out was another.
Part of making condoms sexy meant shooting a sexy film with some degree of nudity. This made it difficult to run the campaign using paid ads on platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. When we tried, our ads got blocked.
Why not just create a censored film? The answer lies in the fact that RFSU does much more than make condoms. It's a non-profit organisation which has been fighting for body rights since it was founded in 1933. It would go against the spirit of the organisation to pander to the tech giants in such a way as altering the content of your film to suit them.
Still, we needed to get this important message out there. We soon realised we would have to go against the grain of today’s campaign strategies, which tend to rely heavily on paid social ads. In the end, we chose to work with a great variety of influential people across Scandinavia.
Through their channels, it was possible to break through to our target group. We also generated buzz through earned media. Sure, the social giants blocked the film, but news of this fact only drove greater interest. The campaign spread far and wide.
Continuing the dialogue
How do you follow up such a successful campaign? By going back to the heart of Dear Condom: telling truths that aren’t often spoken.
Where Part 1 was about different sentiments towards condoms, Part 2 would be about the hidden thoughts between sexual partners that aren’t spoken – but perhaps should be.
To bring this concept to life, we created a film that showed a sexual encounter between a young woman and a young man. The twist is that the film is interactive: the viewer gets to choose whose story to follow – and when.
They can watch one person’s point of view the whole time, or they can toggle between the two. Whoever’s story they were watching would affect whose thoughts they would hear in the voiceover.
RFSU’s sales of condoms increased by 6% and actual condom use – most importantly – went up by 8%.
RFSU’s brand awareness went up across Scandinavia and today, Dear Condom is being used by schools across Scandinavia. The campaign was recognised as 12th best PR campaign at the 2019 Global Sabre Awards.
Two campaigns. Two lessons learned.
Nothing is more important to a brand than authenticity.
Rules are definitely made to be broken.