In a category which has been marred with sexual innuendos and male gaze-led advertising, TTK Healthcare Pvt Ltd owned condom brand Skore has rolled out a campaign which focusses on female pleasure for its new range of thin condoms called ‘Nothing’.
Conceptualised by advertising agency McCann Chennai, the 30-second spot opens with a group of women discussing their friend’s experience of using the thinnest condom. The playful banter between them ends up revealing that Nothing provides skin-on-skin experience.
The ad is targeted at both male and female consumers between 21 and 35 years across the country. Skore competes with brands such as Durex which also offer thin condoms.
The insight behind the campaign
Talking about the consumer insight behind the launch of the product and subsequent campaign, Vishal Vyas, head of marketing, TTK Healthcare Pvt Ltd says that the challenge with the condom category is there is still hesitancy among people to use it because they prefer the feel of skin on skin.
“One of the important discoveries was really something we have known and believed all along, and it holds true even now - that women are equal stakeholders in pleasure. They talk to their partners as well as their friends about their experiences. What we have done is portray what we felt is a very plausible, real and funny conversation between friends,” he notes.
Focussing on women consumers
Advertising in the condom category has largely remained the same over the years with sexual overtones and innuendos.
In the past, ads by brands such as Kamasutra featuring models Pooja Bedi and Marc Robinson were banned while Manforce Navratri ads featuring actor Sunny Leone also created stir. The current government has also prohibited television channels from airing advertisements for condoms any time in the day till 10 pm, since some of the commercials were “indecent and can impact children” back in 2017.
More often than not, the advertising in this category has been accused of being sleazy, treating women as mere objects of desire.
However, Vyas emphasises that TTK Healthcare has always believed that when it comes to mutual pleasure as well as protection, both partners are equal stakeholders. He exemplifies with an old brand campaign done by Skore from 2016-17, which depicted women at an airport, also showcased this belief and challenged the notion that a condom is purely a male product. While a condom may be worn by a man, it is as much a product for women as it is used together.
The biggest names in the sexual wellness/pleasure space are women
“The reality is that males are the ones who are buying condoms,” says Vyas, adding that “In India, they are the decision makers, so the communication has been catering to the male-gaze. However, we feel it is important to cater to all stakeholders.”
With society evolving at a fast pace, brands need to evolve as well. “Women are far more vocal about their needs today than they have ever been. Even if you look at the social content creator/ influencer space, all the biggest names in the sexual wellness/pleasure space are women; and they are highly successful at what they do. So it’s about time the industry notices this and adapts,” he notes.
Pandemic impact on the category
As opposed to global markets, the condom usage in India remains low with the total category size being approximately Rs. 1,300 crore (commercial condom category). Skore is the third largest brand in the industry with a market share of 8.5 percent.
The category has been further hit by the pandemic in a variety of ways.
“Firstly, when we saw lockdowns across the country, stores being shut ate into every brand's business in a big way. Further, with restrictions on travel as well as social occasions, the demand was suppressed earlier in the year. However, we have seen a turnaround over the last few months, wherein people have become more confident about stepping out, whether for a celebration or a vacation,” Vyas admits.
The commercial condom category has started seeing positive growth in the last couple of months. Vyas informs that July 2021 onwards the company is seeing double digit growth in the category.
“We are definitely on track for a better FY22 as compared to FY21. It remains to be seen how this ongoing phase pans out, but we are confident we will ride it out and come out better on the other side,” he says.
The company plans to use a judicious mix of mainline (television) and digital platforms to reach its consumer base and promote the new range of condoms.
Ditch sexual overtones in condom ads
Talking about the campaign, Naresh Gupta, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Bang In The Middle says the banter between three friends is a good way to sell the product, but the overt sexualisation of the story takes away from the brand.
"The same story I think would have worked equally well if the brand was in naughty zone, it’s a zone that women would have been far more comfortable with. Condom is a big of a queasy category and by taking away the sexual overtone they would have made the brand that much more approachable,” he notes.
Gupta does point out that most condom brand advertising has moved from pure male sexual gaze to female sexual gaze. According to him both are equally risky and both become restrictive.“The young consumers are far more open to the category and can do with non-sexual overtone driven communication,” he reasons.