World AIDS Day arrives on December 1 and Durex, which has certainly done its part to keep the deadly HIV virus from spreading, would like the planet to have a safe sex condom emoji to help promote sexual health and education.
Research from the company found that when young people are talking about sex, they typically text—and emojis can play a big role. Some 80 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds find it easier to express themselves using emojis and more than half of respondents regularly use emojis when, ahem, sexting.
Much more concerning to the world’s health—and to Durex’s bottom line—is that more than one-third of that same age group claim not to care about safe sex and nearly half think that HIV will never affect them or their friends.
While competitors such as Trojan are using content marketing (such as sponsoring a web series with MTV), Durex is targeting real-time marketing on social media, promoting the use of a condom emoji to reinforce its safe sex messaging by using the hashtag #CondomEmoji on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
“Emojis of this sort will enable young people to overcome embarrassment around the discussion of safe sex, encourage conversation and raise awareness of the importance of using condoms in protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV and AIDS,” says Durex USA marketing director Karen Chisholm in a press release.
Dr. Mark McCormack, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Co-Director, Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities at Durham University, UK, points out in the same release that many young people are educated about sex through their own experimentation and by searching the internet and social media. Safe sex generally comes up in relationships, but it’s a more difficult subject with new partners or potential lovers. The upshot: “Eighty percent welcomed the idea of the emoji to make the discussion of safe sex easier and more fun,” he said of the millennials surveyed.
“We hope we can help bring condoms to the forefront of the conversation and empower young couples to drive the discussion of safe sex,” Chisholm said.
As part of its lobbying effort, the number of social media posts with the hashtag will be part of Durex’s submission to the Unicode Consortium on December 1 asking for an official safe sex emoji to be created and allowed for use, Tech Times notes. After all, it worked for Taco Bell when it was lobbying for a taco emoji to be added.