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GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | Seattle

GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | New York

The Design Associates | Tokyo

Sex Acts | Branding strategies for Safe(r) Sex

Global brand erection: the next position(ing)

Okay, so it’s Valentine’s Day — some levity, please. I do have a curiosity about the marketing of sex and the relations therein. It’s a tough challenge, a complicated demographic positioning, albeit fraught with emotional conspicuity, as well as other insinuations of restriction, spirituality, personal senses of propriety.

What I might offer, however, is that marketing to the concept of — and around the perimeter of –sex might be one of the most perfectly human exposures there is. Sex sells. And still seems to be doing well even in the most adverse of financial climates. Along with eating, drinking, rest and the imagination of inspiration — all necessary parts of human life — and the advancement of earthly experience. Still, given the emotionality of sex, it’s a risky territory.

Earlier, we’d explored the idea of sex and the retail concern — marketing this intimacy in a selling space of built merchandising environments and, literally, storytelling. This reference came in a series of shops, mostly in NYC.

Sex Acts | Branding strategies for Safe(r) Sex

Some groups take the complexion of sex as a path to creative invention, and you might say that the most outspoken reference to this branding strategy is Durex. Durex is one of a few truly global brands for sex-related products.

Sex Acts | Branding strategies for Safe(r) Sex

Going to the site, you’ll find applications for literally dozens of countries, searchable on their website. But, given their innovative stride and aggressive product development, they practice what they preach in the mission of celebrating sex as a fundamental quality of human experience. But that innovation can take their measure of marketing to some pretty outrageous takes on how to tell the story and get their product into the hands, so to speak, of as many people as possible.

A quiet, streetscape Durex ad — subtly played:

Sex Acts | Branding strategies for Safe(r) Sex

To learn more about the positioning of some of their more assertively inventive approaches to advertising, explore here. I’ll not lay them bare here. But the idea of telling one story that links brand product to actionable presentation, you’ve got to explore this modeling. The campaign began in Europe, with a more provocative visualization — to the point, still fabricated imaginatively of condoms.

Sex Acts | Branding strategies for Safe(r) Sex

And, in the US, this kind of revelation isn’t appropriate to most media applications, more abstraction is requisite. So it is, here:

Sex Acts | Branding strategies for Safe(r) Sex

The compelling point to the branding strategy is the link between creating a metaphorical approach to the product — the bunny — that then reciprocates in the context of what an audience might “comfortably associate” with an act as conflicted and as risqué as human conjugation. The campaign visualization spread from one format — the posters and print applications — to creating motion spots using computer graphics modeling to “activate” the animation. To quote the team from Fitzgerald+Co, “the posters, balloon animals were made with actual condoms. As it turned out, inflated condoms are not the easiest props to shape. Having a professional magician—one who makes balloon animals—assisting with numerous props turned out to be the wisest decision of the shoot. The layered files from the posters were sent to Superfad, who used them as a reference for their CGI. Without a doubt, this :30 spot has been the most successful piece of communication in the history of Durex global advertising.”

The winning character of the messaging — and the striking visuals, let alone the sound — expands: ten thousand viewers online the first day it hit YouTube in February. It has passed 12 million viewers worldwide and growing. A 2009 Lion winner at Cannes in the viral category, these irreverent characters have also won awards at the One Show, Clios, D&AD, Art Directors Club of New York and swept four categories in AICP, including the coveted “Humor” category. And, aside from the challenging nature of the material “Get It On” has been included in the AICP show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in the global ACT Responsible exhibit of the best social responsibility advertising in the world.

And, to the spirit of invention and humor, these bloopers are worth watching, too, created by Superfad. Interestingly enough, at last count, this “banned” commercial by Durex has over 7 million views. While Durex hasn’t supplanted Trojan in the US, they are still the number one recognized global brand. And it might be said that their merchandising and positioning of the brand is a boost to that capacity, as well as the legacy of their manufacture, since 1929, an intimation of their real staying power.

I had to throw that in.

Brand, story, product, alignment. Love, all ways.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tim Girvin | Decatur Island

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