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Condom maker gets in step with MTV and sings a sweet song when its brand awareness soars to the top of the charts.

Durex brand condoms has McCann-Erickson, London, to thank for the turnaround ever since May 1995 when McCann unveiled its campaign.

Less than four months later, research conducted by Durex owner London International Group across Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. showed that more MTV viewers knew the Durex brand than non-viewers. For example, in Germany, awareness of the Durex name among MTV viewers grew from 22% to 42%, compared with 9% to 12% for non-MTV viewers.

So effective was the campaign's impact on Durex brand awareness among the target audience, LIG has used the European creative strategy and other MTV networks for the brand's first global campaign.


"Europe was our initial focus because we had been reinvesting in the brand there," said Catherine Taylor, LIG's group marketing controller. "We wanted to reach young adults in Europe in an innovative, cost-effective way. We wanted something that would create a great splash."

Ms. Taylor said MTV Europe was ideal because "the network has a very pro-social commitment in its corporate philosophy to safer sex."

The move to advertise globally was spurred by financial problems caused by poor sales in LIG's non-core businesses, ranging from soap and cough syrups to photo processing. In 1994, the company was losing money. It restructured and committed its future to three key product lines: surgical gloves, household and industrial gloves and condoms. Meanwhile, the spread of AIDS prompted the international medical profession to advocate the need for protective sex. Sales of the formerly unfashionable condom contraceptive started to increase. To globalize the Durex brand name and extend its lead as the No. 1 brand, LIG committed an estimated $48 million to advertising and sponsorship.

The company, however, had obstacles to overcome. Although a best-seller in several markets with a 21% share of the world's branded condom market, the Durex brand name was not universally known because the product was not sold everywhere under the same name. The marketer and McCann had to ensure healthy sales were not undermined by a larger Durex brand awareness campaign.

Until the McCann appointment, LIG used various local agencies for national ads, especially in the U.S. and Asia. Also, while governments were increasingly relaxing ad regulations worldwide, not every market was amenable to TV commercials that encouraged sexual intercourse.


"There are many differences for legislative, religious and cultural reasons. But where we came across problems, we were able to respond," said Jon Thurlow, VP-international media for Universal McCann Worldwide, London, McCann-Erickson's media buying arm.

The TV spots' message would also be consolidated by on-air program sponsorship; product sampling at major MTV events such as the European Music Awards, joint LIG/MTV promotions and merchandise.

The first burst of ads occurred in May 1995, followed by a second a year later. The spot, featuring intimate shots of a young couple making love followed by the tag line "Feeling is everything," conveyed that Durex condoms are sensual, sensitive and fun.

The spots supported sponsorship of MTV Europe's high-rated "Dial MTV" interactive, video-request program. The sponsorship spots included the mention of Durex at the program's start: "Sponsored by Durex, makers of condoms, quality choice of Europe." At the program's end, the presenter played the five most requested videos.

"We were creating a point: By using a request and interactive program, the viewer is making a choice. Being linked with the program also meant Durex was a choice product," Mr. Thurlow said.

When the campaign went global in April, LIG bought airtime and sponsorship spots around "Dial MTV" on MTV Europe and video request programs in other MTV networks. The European creative concept and strategy were retained, but adapted for suitability in the regional markets. For example, explicit shots featured in MTV Europe ads couldn't be used in conservative Asian markets.

The MTV ads also were localized for certain European markets such as Germany and Italy, where MTV can provide local opt-outs for nationally targeted campaigns.

National sub-brands in Germany and Italy have been retained, but packaging includes the words "From the house of Durex." This continues to harmonize the Durex name but guarantees the loyalty of customers used to the sub-brand names.

Since the time between the European and global campaigns' launches, LIG has become profitable. Trade share jumped to $2.25 in June from $1.21 in August 1994, before the MTV campaigns began.


LIG is developing a second global campaign.

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