|company: The Play Safe Thong|
country: United States
distribution: North America and Europe (via internet and selected retailers)
context: latest estimates indicate there are 15 million new STD (sexually transmitted diseases) cases in the US each year. Approximately ¼ of new infections are in young adults under the age of 25. Worldwide, nearly 50% of all new infections occur within the 15-24 age group. Every minute, 10 young people are infected.
Women are given the role of responsible communicator regarding sexual behaviour and condom use. It is generally accepted that safe sex is a female concern. Condoms control the spread of HIV and other STDs better than any other method, including medication, vaccines, and… ‘abstinence-only-until-marriage’ programs.
what: Caren Martineau, with a background in brand development, product design and concept, and also a mother of two teenagers (who probably inspired her new activity), is the creator of The Play Safe Thong®, a new collection of undergarments provided with a pocket in the back just big enough to hold a free premium latex condom.
why: together with a few creative friends, Martineau set out to market a fashion product, which intends to empower and support sexually active women to practice safe sex. Targeted to young adults (the largest consumer group wearing thongs is teenagers) this underwear collection aims to combine sex with responsible partners. T-shirts and camisoles with The Play Safe logo are available as well.
“Let's be honest, sex is the most successful marketing tool in the history of mankind - Martineau states – “By combining sexy fashion with social responsibility, our mission is to influence, educate and transform the perceptions of our young, hip and most vulnerable citizens”.
how: Martineau’s belief is that abstinence as a declaration doesn't necessarily work when you're young and sexually curious: “BE SMART. Eliminate the risk of unprotected intimacy” rather than “BE SECURE. Stop the nagging insecurity around ‘hope he has condoms’" are the main claims that the company suggests to promote these products, not as fringe accessories but as an essential necessity for a young girl's wardrobe.