Imagine a phone going off at a wedding reception and the mobile ringtone has the unlikely chant of “condom, condom”. Imagine the consternation of the person who holds the phone because it’s not really his phone. Imagine the reaction of all around him. Well, if you think they are shocked and disapproving, you’ve got another think coming! Most people feel there is nothing wrong with the condom ringtone, as condoms signify smart and responsible behaviour, the hallmark of any winner.
This ‘condom a cappella’ ringtone is featured in a new ad campaign launched on August 8, 2008. The advertisement is part of a two year project using mass media to make condoms more generally acceptable. It is produced by the BBC World Service Trust and funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is also using the ad to support its condom promotion efforts.
The strategy is to show social support for condoms, as this has a positive effect on use, and position condoms as a product that men use to show they are responsible and care about themselves and their families. The creative idea of the ringtone winning approval from men and women of all ages reinforces that condoms mean good sense and those who know it are the real winners in life!
The campaign therefore focuses on people who are sensible enough to appreciate and understand this, and so the tagline is Jo Samjha Wohi Sikander (“the one who understands is a winner”).
Creative Director of the BBC World Service Trust, Radharani Mitra states: “Ringtones have become such personal statements that a specially created condom ringtone seemed just the right vehicle to define its user as a sensible person. We have always had a strong interactive, response-oriented element in this ongoing campaign. This downloadable ringtone provides yet another opportunity for our target audience to translate the message into an action point. The very act of downloading and using this ringtone would have a counter effect on the inhibitions and taboos that can be associated with condoms. And it adds an element of fun and comfort to it.”
The campaign uses a multitude of youth friendly platforms such as website downloads, online games, mobile advertising and downloads, along with the TV and radio advertisements and on-ground activation. The objective is to connect with all age groups and across the socio-economic strata. This original ringtone can be downloaded in India by SMSing “CONDOM” to 56887 (download charges apply) or free from anywhere worldwide on the website condomcondom.org .
The ringtone advertisement is the third instalment of the ongoing condom normalisation campaign. The campaign has reached over 100 million people in the four target states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu – states with high rates of HIV. Each phase has used the media in innovative and interactive ways to get people to talk about condoms and accept them as a sign of smart and responsible behaviour. These innovations include a contest where winners received mobile phone with free talk time, an ad featuring a Kabaddi match won by the unlikely chant of “condom”, SMS opinion polls and more.
The BBC World Service Trust is the international charity of the BBC. Created in October 1999, the Trust uses the creative power of the media to achieve development goals. It works in 43 countries around the world using a variety of approaches including television and radio drama, advertisements and journalism training. The BBC World Service Trust focuses on health, governance and human rights, the environment and humanitarian response. With an annual turnover of £17.6 million, the Trust employs 500 staff worldwide, 80% of whom are recruited and trained locally. It has been operational in India for ten years.