DUREX: GOOD SEX, NOT JUST SAFE SEX - GLOBAL LEADER SEEKS GROWTH IN U.S. VIA 2 EFFORTS FOR STREAMLINED BRAND

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Durex Consumer Products keeps up its sensuality-focused message in radio and print ad campaigns set to break this summer for two condom lines.

The efforts for the Durex High Sensation and Durex Avanti brands are part of an evolution away from a safe-sex message in the condom market and toward a pleasure-producing one.

That change, in part, is driven by a belief the safe-sex message is pervasive and somewhat uninteresting today for young people.

'NORMALIZING' CONDOM USE

"We're trying to normalize condom use, to talk about it is as an important and pleasurable part of sex because the groundwork is there in everyone's heads," said Carolyn Donegan, VP-account supervisor on Durex at agency Fitzgerald & Co., Atlanta. "Everyone knows they're supposed to use condoms."

The estimated $2 million in spending for the two campaigns -- Durex is expected to spend $5 million in U.S. advertising this year -- are the latest since Durex parent London International Group underwent a September reorganization that combined its lines under the Durex umbrella.

Durex, which sells condoms in 140 countries, touts itself as the worldwide leader. Figures from ACNielsen Corp. for the 36 weeks ended June 5 show that it holds 14.7% of the U.S. market, ahead of Ansell's Life Styles with 14% but far behind Carter-Wallace Co.'s Trojan at 60%.

The brand realignment last year brought the shift in marketing message and a new tagline: "Set yourself free."

Like other condom marketers, Durex has taken pains to ensure its ads -- which target people ages 18 to 34 -- are aimed at both men and women. Figures provided by Durex indicate 35% of condom purchasers in 1998 were women, up from 30% five years ago.

MORE ACCEPTABLE

"We've seen a shift in attitudes, where women are feeling that they have to play a greater role in their own protection," said Jim Cowsert, Durex brand manager. "In the past, when it might have been viewed as not as acceptable for women to carry condoms, now it definitely is."

The High Sensation campaign is scheduled to break July 19 as a new version of the condom hits stores.

"The energy created during sexual intercourse is roughly equivalent to climbing two flights of stairs . . . Get ready to walk up the Empire State Building," reads a print ad. Radio spots compare High Sensation to an "ordinary condom" by juxtaposing high-energy sounds with more banal ones.

A radio campaign starts in August for Avanti, a polyurethane condom that functions as an alternative to latex condoms, which dominate the market. Print will follow.

Condom marketers continue to be rebuffed by broadcast TV networks, although cable is more receptive. Durex ran a spot on MTV two years ago but opted to go

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