In a country pretentious about sex, condom ads have often faced the wrath of the government. In the early 1990s, state-run Doordarshan banned a KamaSutra ad featuring Pooja Bedi in the shower. The brains behind the ad Alyque Padamsee was even summoned by the Advertising Standards Council of India. Over two decades later, in 2017, all television channels were prohibited from airing ‘indecent’ condom ads between 6 am to 10 pm. In the backdrop of this constant moral policing, brands have found a new channel to promote safe sex as well as advertise their products: digital. And, Manforce Condoms is leveraging the medium to the fullest.
“We saw a spike in digital audience due to the lockdown, and thus became more aggressive in putting out social messages of staying safe in a fun manner,” says Joy Chatterjee, deputy general manager of Mankind Pharma. The first campaign #UpYourGame was for the brand’s Game condom line. Executed in April, the posts conceptualised by Grapes Digital focused on indoor games that were gaining popularity during the lockdown. With witty lines like ‘First check, then mate’, ‘Scoring the queen takes practice’ and ‘Play your cards well and Ace it later’, the ad agency drew parallels between people’s favourite games and sex.
In May, when restrictions were somewhat eased and people started venturing out, the brand released another set of social media posts with the message #StayProtected. “In times like these, it becomes a responsibility for a brand like us to deliver the message of safety not only in terms of sexual intercourse but also when you step out of your home,” explains Chatterjee. The minimalistic posters released under this campaign showed condoms as protective gear for indoors and gloves/masks as protective gear for outdoors. Simple but smart lines like ‘Get yourself a rubber shield’ and ‘Protection comes first’ accompanied the posters.
From coming up with a smart copy to designing the graphic, the entire process can take anywhere between a day to a week, says Shradha Agarwal, COO of Grapes Digital. “The copywriter, the designer and the client servicing team get on video call and decide on a topic,” she explains. For instance, when the prime minister declared a “20-trillion package” for “self-reliant” India, #VocalForLocal trended on Twitter. Wasting no time, the team came up with a post — The brand that makes you vocal, has always been local — to cash in on the engagement.
This real-time connection between brands and consumers is moment marketing, explains Agarwal. In fact, Manforce Condoms has often risen up to trends. When Sarabhai vs Sarabhai memes were doing the rounds during the lockdown, the creative team quickly came up with ‘Monisha beta pleasure bolo, mazaa aa gaya is too middle class’. Similarly when an earthquake shook Delhi-NCR, the brand cheekily put out ‘Take Cover when it shakes’ across all social media platforms. “Earlier, people wanted to know what Zomato, Durex or Oreo had posted. Today, they also want to know what Manforce has posted,” says Agarwal. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the brand has bagged bronze for its usage of moment marketing in Adgully’s Digixx Awards 2020.
Not just critics, the audience, too, loved the digital campaigns. As per figures shared by Grapes Digital, the brand has received over 650,000 engagements across all social media platforms for its lockdown-related posts. If you have missed out on the action so far, stay tuned to their social media platforms because there is more coming up.