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As the world grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the topic of AIDS and HIV infections and the importance of practicing good and safe sex for all remained important for Durex. Justin Lee, the Singapore marketing director for the condom brand’s parent company Reckitt Benckiser tells The Drum how the brand approached World AIDS Day during a pandemic.

In its preparation for World AIDS Day on 1 December 2020, the brand’s research showed that the coronavirus pandemic has actually had a positive impact on people’s intention to use sexual protection and on their desire to protect other people.

Lee says this closely aligned to everything Durex had prepared for World Aids Day, which was creating a new normal that empowers the next generation of Singaporeans with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to make more informed decisions in the bedroom.

“This year has been anything but normal. Normal in Singapore is avoiding the conversation and not asking the important questions, but just because it’s normal doesn’t mean we should keep doing it, which is why we’re asking young adults to start a dialogue that builds positive and healthy attitudes to empower good, safe sex for all,” he explains.

“After speaking directly to young Singaporeans, it became clear that there’s an alarming lack of awareness around sexual health. To create a safe space where young adults can learn about, talk about, and ask questions about sex, we launched an educational campaign on social media to start a dialogue. And it doesn’t stop there.”

He continues: “The partnership with Action for Aids (AFA) takes the conversation a step further by making condoms more accessible to at-risk communities, and with the help of our nation, Durex will donate 10,000 condoms to AFA to help reduce the spread of HIV infections and STIs locally.”

2020 has also helped Durex realised that the world has never been more ready for change, and the brand feels it is time it changed it for the better because it does not want things to go back to normal, pre-Covid-19.  

For Durex, Lee says normal was needless STIs, normal was believing myths around sex and not knowing enough about sexual health, normal was avoiding the conversation. 

“While the rest of the world attempts to go back to normal, Durex is empowering Singaporeans to start a dialogue because we need to do more to protect ourselves and each other – Let’s not go back to normal, and let’s start talking about sex the right way,” he explains. 

“We employ an integrated mix of channels and platforms. For World AIDS Day, we looked to social media to arm people with information they need to learn about practising safe sex, and below-the-line content at retailers and AFA touch-points island-wide to make condoms more accessible to local communities.”

Looking ahead, Lee says 2021 will be an “exciting” year for Durex, one where the brand will continue to educate young adults in Singapore on the need for protection, especially among those who are curious but uninformed.

“Durex is committed to helping Singaporeans find comfort in uncomfortable conversations so they can start talking about sex more confidently, arming them with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to have safe and satisfying sex,” he adds.

Durex previously spoke to The Drum about its mission to rally against taboos and non-inclusive attitudes, even under lockdown, and why it is among the small throng of companies that don’t want things to go back to normal post-pandemic.