Durex SOS Condoms go flaccid over Batman

A marketing campaign offered to deliver Durex condoms directly to couples in need in cities across the world. But voters chose where the SOS Condoms service would start...
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor on

Even carefully constructed social media campaigns created by large brands with marketing budgets can go awry.

Durex hit upon a great marketing campaign centred around emergency deliveries of condoms. Couples could use a laptop or iPhone app to request a rush delivery of Durex SOS Condoms to be delivered to their location just in time.

Credit: Facebook

The delivery service “delivers to you and find(s) the best way to suit your situation. Of course, you can always rely on our discreet and professional delivery team.”

To start the campaign, Durex asked the community to vote for the city where the delivery service would begin. Unfortunately Durex used Facebook for the SOS Condoms campaign and a microsite for users to place their votes.

Couples were asked to vote for the city that would be the first to enjoy the new service. Instead of providing voters with a limited list of cities to choose from, Durex gave voters the option to vote for any city they wanted to.

Internet pranksters voted for Batman with 1733 votes which beat Kuala Lumpur (1437 votes) and Singapore (1030 votes) as the place to start SOS Condom deliveries.

New York only attained 368 votes and London 609 votes.

Credit: Facebook

Batman, the most voted for city is an oil-rich city in the south-eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. Batman is oil-rich, conservative and predominantly Muslim.

Voters might have enjoyed the joke that a city named after a superhero should be the first to get a condom delivery service. Unfortunately others were not so delighted about the winning location.

Durex was quick to respond and has shut its SOS Campaign down. Its Facebook page has had no updates since April. It will be moving on the ‘a new sphere’ according to a spokesperson at the brand.

Social media campaigns have the potential for hijack. Qantas airlines had a PR disaster when it asked its followers on Twitter to describe their idea of a luxury flight on Qantas during grounding of its planes worldwide. McDonalds asked its followers to share their McDonalds stories.

Without careful management, organisation and monitoring, campaigns unleashed to social media have the potential to quickly go viral. Amusement at the city name of Batman appearing on the leader board would have prompted more votes ensuring it remained at the top of the polls.

As the cities in the leader board shifted position human intervention should have ensured that inappropriate behaviour and trends were throttled back and managed appropriately before issues escalated out of control.

Durex has done the appropriate thing by stopping its SOS Condoms campaign. It has not deleted its campaign site, it has accepted that its social media campaign was hijacked and it has moved on.

But couples that are unprepared and might find themselves caught short at a critical moment might have have wished for an SOS service to appear at the click of a smartphone app to round off their date satisfactorily.

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