Sex sells safety in B.C. public service campaign

Options for Sexual Health chose Valentine’s Day to kick off a provocative campaign promoting safe sex by using sex.

Options for Sexual Health chose Valentine’s Day to kick off a provocative campaign promoting safe sex by using sex.

The $40,000 campaign by Vancouver-based Hello Cool World focuses on two PSA videos targeting straight and gay youth at The ads will also launch on Global and CBC in British Columbia Feb. 21 for a three week run.

Both ads are set in the club scene. “What are you going to wear?” asks a young male. “I want you to wear…” replies a girl holding up a condom. “Put on something sexy. That’s so sexy.” The ad directs the viewer to the website and to the 1-800-SEX-SENSE telephone line.

Katherine Dodds, founder and creative director at Hello Cool World, said fear just doesn’t work when it comes to selling safe sex and neither does the “just say no” message.

“Everybody wants to have sex,” Dodds said. “And if they don’t want to have it now, they do eventually. What we do know is that condom use decreases once sexual activity starts,” she said. “Abstinence is not going to happen, so it’s better to eroticize the things that make you safer.”

While public television might be ready for spots that use sex to sell beer and men’s deodorants, these safe sex ads won’t be seen until after 11:00 p.m.

“A few years ago, we would never have got the ad approved at all, but this experiment has barely started and we don’t really know if pleasure marketing is going to work,” said Dodds. “We do know that education is desperately needed, and we have to make the good behaviours desirable.”

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