Getting up close and personal

Disclaimer: I know little about the mechanics of marketing or advertising. I once did a marketing project for a book on cycling and my free gift with purchase idea? A bookmark. My classmate’s? A mini bike repair kit.

Despite this failure on my part, I consider myself perfectly suited to make judgements about advertising and marketing because I am a consumer. A buyer. A shopper. A purchaser of things I do not need but am easily convinced that I probably do.

Penelope WhitsonOn a recent jaunt to China, my chums and I spent quite some time trawling the aisles of the local supermarkets. As so often happens, we gravitated towards the condom section and found a brand called Jizz-bon. (Chinese-French for semen is good?) Another with the line, ‘Protects your head’. These are gold. I now wish I’d purchased them. To, ah, show people. Displayed casually on my coffee table, perhaps?

However, these boxes of protection got me pondering. What makes us buy one brand over another? Because it’s not like you see heaps of advertising for condoms unless you’re at Family Planning. Can you still get 144 condoms for free when you visit the nice folks there?  Given the lack of advertising, I’m guessing it’s the packaging or the price that makes up our minds. How many bangs for your buck versus the potentially mind-blowing experience a pricier brand will bring you and your genitals.

For the purposes of research, I spent some time on the Durex website, which tells me I can buy ribbed! Dotted! Flavoured, coloured, thin, thick, warming, tingling ... it has never occurred to me to buy condoms online before but given many people probably find standing in front of the condom selection at New World a little embarrassing, it might be the answer.

Other packets are festooned with small-waisted, long-legged, scantily clad cartoon super warrior women. Who are these aimed at? Computer nerds for whom such women are more than just a final fantasy? Women who see themselves as super warrior maidens? Am I a super warrior maiden? Will these make me feel like one? I’ll get back to you.

Continuing my research, I asked the nearest male, my brother, fountain of knowledge that he is, for his thoughts on penile protection. Apparently it’s all about the smell afterwards ... hot rubber or stink-free? Non-latex, baby. Which led me to the Ansell Skyn non-latex condoms online – however, I am, of course, not very happy with how they’re spelling that.  And I guess that’s advertising for you – it’s personal. I reject items because of how they’re spelled. For others, it’s the smell. No doubt you have your own reasons for refusing to purchase certain products.

The problem with doing all this research at home is that I can’t see the back of the boxes. Is it reasonable to ask in this age of obesity how many calories a flavoured condom has? Am off to the supermarket. For research, you understand.

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