DKT Myanmar puts women first in brave (and sexy) new condom campaign
A young, beautiful, confident woman in a bikini is lounging on a raft in a swimming pool when she spots a handsome man walking alongside the water. He sees her, lowers his sunglasses and they lock eyes. Rather than look away, she makes her way out of the pool, keeps her gaze on his, walks over to him, leans over and whispers something suggestive in his ear. Moments later, they head into the locker room…
For a condom ad in most countries, a campaign featuring a sexy, young couple meeting poolside might be considered cliché. It is nothing out of the ordinary to see a woman flirting, or making the first move in a first romantic encounter – or for a condom ad to feature a sexy young, heterosexual couple about to have sex. To have a woman initiate sex –asking for and getting the pleasure she wants and having the confidence to do so – is the aim of many sexual and reproductive health marketing campaigns: sex is not and should not be just about pleasure for men, but about what women want and desire, and contraceptives (whether that be condoms, pills, etc.) allow women and men to seek that pleasure without facing life-altering consequences.
But in Myanmar, social and political reprisals can happen with such campaigns. The images, campaigns, and messages that are allowed to be broadcast are closely monitored and most celebrities and influencers face reprisals if they dare to push boundaries too far past the conservative norm. Women are rarely portrayed as initiators of romantic engagements and even celebrities are discouraged from showing off their sexuality in public forums.
The four-month campaign: “Share the Pleasure: Let’s Fiesta,” was released on July 5 on DKT’s social media accounts, targeting a Myanmar audience, with Myanmar actors, in a country that has seen extreme fluctuations in personal freedoms in the past 10 years. The sex-positive ads dare Myanmar’s young adult market to redefine their sexual encounters, break down the barriers that exist around sex and sexuality and suggest they unleash their inhibitions whenever and wherever the urge arises (using a condom, of course). It’s a daring leap into uncharted territory, where young people can explore their inner passions, elevate their sexual pleasure and boldly, confidently act on their desires. The idea, said DKT Myanmar’s Country Director Debu Satapathy, is to bring sex “out of the bedroom,” and do something that “everyone is going to talk about.”
“The entire DKT Myanmar marketing team believes this is the right way to do this,” Satapathy said. “(They) believe this is the work we should be doing. The driving force (behind the campaign) is DKT’s mission and philosophy: That sex is great and people are born free. I think these ads communicate this.”
In its first five days, the campaign amassed 2M impressions with 131K complete video views for a 15-second ad. DKT’s Director of Marketing, Su Mon Thaw said in the Southeast Asian region, ads in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector typically see about a 10% call to action (CTA) engagement rate, but the campaign is averaging a 30% rate performance on the material posted this far.
“This (the ad’s initial performance) is quite good,” Su Mon Thaw said. For DKT Myanmar to promote the usage of condoms, the organization needs to talk about sex and talk about condom usage. “We need to make sure that people are comfortable talking about both condoms and sex,” she said. “We have to normalize sex. Why not make a sexy and elegant condom ad, as all the other products – which are not related to sex –- are sexualizing their ads? If we can be open about sex and talk about sex, then it’s much easier to also talk about condoms. Only after that, can we really inform and educate people that condoms are fun, sexy products they need for their everyday life.”.
For several days prior to launch, DKT Myanmar “teased” the ads on social media, drawing 5.3 million impressions over a two week period – surpassing the anticipated impression estimate of 4.1 million. Following the launch, DKT Myanmar will activate the “amplification phase” of the campaign and has commissioned three, young and famous influencers – whose combined existing audiences exceed 1 million followers – to engage audiences more broadly on the topic of sexual health.
Because self-censorship (and very real, official censorship from the government) is so prevalent in Myanmar, condom sales have been flat since 2019, Satapathy said. There is a level of fear around promoting anything related to sex, making it difficult to find actors or influencers who will openly promote condoms – most won’t even hold a condom in an ad. That reality has greatly affected the ability of organizations such as DKT to sustain and grow the market, but “Let’s Fiesta” seeks to change attitudes, as well as behaviors and is taking a bold approach not previously seen in Myanmar.
DKT has been selling condoms in Myanmar since 2014 and has introduced several new brands with mixed success since that time. The newest brand, Fiesta, was introduced in 2021 and has been marketed as a fun, affordable brand focused on youth and specifically, women with an emphasis on female pleasure. Rather than focus on all the brands with mixed results, Satapathy said his team wanted to go all in on Fiesta, taking the marketing of the fun, youthful brand to the next level and sending a bold new statement on female empowerment in its messaging.
In addition to the poolside ad, the series features the same couple seemingly having sex in a car and in a haunted, abandoned house after a long run together. Although sensual and boundary-pushing, all three ads are tasteful, professional, and well-produced. The actors featured, Su Mon Thaw said, were chosen because they were emerging talent – neither are well-known in the country and not considered celebrities – yet. The reason to feature “unknowns” she said was intentional: the actors were not afraid to take a risk.
Thus far, Su Mon Thaw said the feedback online has been mostly positive and the talent featured in the ads are attracting new fans on their private social media. In the event that the actors are bullied online, or start to receive negative attention, she said DKT Myanmar has a plan in place with its partner, PR agency to mitigate any online or other, potential backlash that may come to these actors should there be issues with the campaign.
“This is the work we should be doing,” Satapathy said. “We believe in DKT’s mission so much – this is the driving force.”