herald

Friday 19 April 2019

Johnny come lately

Durex couldn't believe its luck when it became clear in 1985 that condoms were going to be freely available. Dublin was a brand new market.

But it was also an ignorant market. Only a small section of Irish society knew what a condom looked like, or how it worked.

A much wider section of the population held strange beliefs about condoms, one of which was that every 50th condom off the production line had to be punctured with a pin in order to give sperm a fighting chance.

It was nonsense, of course. But it was dangerous nonsense, and Durex wanted to

eliminate the myths before they developed strong roots. So they came to my PR company.

They had videos showing a condom could hold what looked like a litre of liquid without breaking.

They had leaflets explaining that some ointments could weaken the material of which a condom was made. They had free samples enough to equip the Red Army.

We established what they should say and what they shouldn't say, in order to prevent a backlash.

No backlash happened.

It may have taken us a lot longer than other countries, but as sales took off, the message was clear: Ireland was ready, willing and able to embrace the condom.

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