Safe Sex :: Condom promotion campaign in northern India wins UN public relations prize

A public awareness campaign designed to encourage the use of condoms as part of safe sex practices and family planning has won an award from the United Nations for outstanding achievement in public relations.

The campaign, which used the slogan ?Condom Bindaas Bol? (?Say Condoms Freely?), was created to try to overturn a decline in condom use and sales in eight states in northern India ? Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand ? that together comprise 45 per cent of the national condom market.

It used two messages: that ?condom? is not a delicate word and it should be discussed freely, and that condoms should be used by everyone, and not just by people in high-risk groups.

Celebrities endorsed the campaign in public service announcements (PSAs) for television, a campaign podcast was issued on YouTube, editorial meetings were held with 20 publications and broadcast channels to encourage them to carry reports on the issue and a ?viral video? featuring the scenario of a shy customer being encouraged by a retailer to ask for condoms was mass mailed.

The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) announced on Friday that the campaign had won this year?s UN Grand Award, an award it jointly sponsors with the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) to recognize excellence in campaigns that tackle priority issues before the world body. The award will be presented in London on 6 November.

?Condom Bindaas Bol? was created by the public relations company Weber Shandwick and is the result of a joint effort of PSP-One, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project, the Indian Government?s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and ICICI Bank.

Two other campaigns received honourable mentions for the prize: Singapore?s ?Yellow Ribbon Project,? aimed at promoting the rehabilitation back into society of ex-offenders released from jail, and ?Daddy Send Me To School,? which was launched by the Turkish newspaper Milliyet to improve women?s access to education.

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