Durex Crowns Umbrella Its Safe Sex #CondomEmoji on World AIDS Day

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Durex #CondomEmoji World AIDS Day 2016 safe sex emoji

Safe sex may be the most realistic way to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but talking about it still leaves a whole lot of folks a bit skittish.

Some of them apparently work for Unicode, the group that approves emojis before they are sent out into the world. For last year’s World AIDS Day annual December 1st global campaign, condom maker Durex campaigned to lobby Unicode to approve safe-sex emojis:

Alas, the organization wouldn’t go for it. Undeterred, Durex is releasing its safe sex emojis anyway in honor of this year’s World AIDS Day. It even teased the campaign’s return with the promise of an eggplant-flavored condom, a wink at the popularity of the eggplant emoji for the body part that Durex is most (intimately) familiar with.

It elicited this waggish response from Citroen:

But the eggplant did not make the cut, for the people have spoken and Durex’s winning (though unofficial) emoji for safe sex is the ever-popular open umbrella with rain.

umbrella with raindrops emojiExplaining its persistence, the brand stated: “At Durex, we know that emojis play a vital role in young people’s conversation around sex. That’s why we’re still campaigning for the creation of the world’s first official #CondomEmoji. While we wait to get one, we’ve asked people what their alternative is when talking about safe sex and the umbrella emoji has resulted to be the most used one. Whenever you feel it’s on, always remember to put it on!”

Durex users’ choice of the umbrella-with-raindrops emoji (not the other two non-raindrop-covers umbrella emojis, mind you) emerged from a survey of 3,500 young people—a critical group to reach, as 41% of new HIV infections are in that group. Close to a quarter (23.1%) voted for the umbrella with raindrops emoji, followed by a red circle (18.6%) and a helmet with a white cross (16.7%).

Durex’s ongoing #condomemoji hashtag announced the winner on Twitter and Facebook, and quickly became a trending topic with users from 160 nations sharing the hashtag.

While light-hearted, AIDS (of course) remains a serious public health issue, and at least one user on Twitter lambasted Unicode for not taking things seriously by approving a (gasp!) condom emoji.

For now, the unofficial ‘raining umbrella’ is the emoji of choice.

“At Durex we believe that for this World AIDS Day identifying the unofficial safe sex emoji is an important step that helps to empower young people to put safe sex back on the agenda, supporting the fight to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS,” said Durex Global Category Director Volker Sydow in a press release.

While the emoji is unofficial, it has received the support of the International Planned Parenthood Association. Its release should help the more than 75 percent of 16- to 35-year-olds Durex surveyed that use emojis to talk about sex.

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