Durex condoms' social media strategy goes wrong

The brand falls into a Facebook pitfall after leaving itself open to pranksters.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 5, 2013 2:35PM

File photo of Durex condoms (© Jason Bye/Rex Features)Durex probably thought it had hit upon a brilliant social media campaign for a new emergency condom delivery service -- at least until the campaign spiraled into odd territory.

The condom maker asked Facebook (FB) fans to vote on which city should receive the service, called SOS Condoms, which sends rush delivery of condoms to couples in need, Bloomberg reports.

Unfortunately, the vote was apparently seized upon by Internet pranksters, who gave the most votes to Batman -- as in the conservative Muslim province in Turkey, not the superhero. (No doubt the shared name helped win many of the votes.)

Meanwhile, some locals aren't too happy about the campaign. 

"I'm Kurdish, and I know how we are, so this is impossible. Our culture is religious," Abdurrahman Temelli, a sustainable development consultant from a neighboring city, told Bloomberg. 

But for Reckitt Benckiser Group (RGPBF), which owns Durex, the campaign is just another example of how marketers sometimes fail to predict the ways social media campaigns can go awry. 

In the condom case, pranksters hijacked the campaign, but some efforts to reach out to consumers have turned out much, much worse. 

Last year, McDonald's (MCD) pushed Twitter users to write about fond experiences at the restaurant under the hashtag #McDStories. Instead, consumers wrote gems such as, "Ordered a McDouble, something in the damn thing chipped my molar." The restaurant chain shut down the campaign just a few hours later. 

Then there was the NRA's American Rifleman, which tweeted, "Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?" the day of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting. Sample reply, "Yeah, just gonna mourn a bit. And you?" 

Durex could have avoided the whole mess if it had offered a multiple-choice response rather than allowing Internet jokers to write in any city they wanted. 

As for SOS Condoms, the service won't be offered in Batman or anywhere else, a Durex spokeswoman told Bloomberg. She added that the condom maker's social media efforts are moving "on to a new sphere."

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

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Jun 5, 2013 3:24PM
People get so uptight over things. *whine* Our society is religious so other people shouldn't be allowed condoms! *bigger whine* you can't get an abortion! You shouldn't have gotten pregnant! But you can't use those condoms! The issue is that the most ignorant people think this way ergo the most ignorant people are reproducing like rabbits. Idiocracy is the scariest horror film of all time.
Jun 5, 2013 4:28PM
when I was in college I had a condom delivery service on campus. Made great money.
Jun 5, 2013 5:41PM
A woman was asked how she felt about condoms.
   She said, "Depends on what's in it for me.
Jun 5, 2013 5:25PM
That's funny 'cuz last I heard Turkey had a huge prostitution problem as well as rape issues. So, condoms would be a great idea.
Jun 5, 2013 5:20PM
Condoms for birth control? NO!!!!!

Honor Killings of female rape victims? Absolutely! 
Jun 5, 2013 5:37PM
Condoms are not evil.  Just think of a STD epidemic causinng severe birth defects in newborns.  Just think of unwanted pregnancy and neglected newborns.  What family that has 15 kids needs more anyway.  If you cannot afford to provide newborns with what  they need then use condoms. 
Jun 5, 2013 5:06PM
How hard was it for the media to find someone offended over this?
Jun 5, 2013 5:40PM
Send all the condoms to Justin Bieber......we need to head off any offspring.  Mayor Bloomberg will pay for the campaign.
Jun 5, 2013 5:34PM
How about each and every one of us buy a pack of Durexs and mail it to the "Batman" city hall.  Perhaps they will hand them out and we will have less fanatical wack job muslims blowing up innocent people. 
Jun 5, 2013 5:17PM

That's why Corporations shouldn't be letting Social Media involved in your marketing. It takes only one person to start a ridiculous comment to let others join in.  Look at the responses you get on now.  Just because someone is allowed free speech doesn't mean you want them to make decision like this.


When will people realize there's a place for Social Media and that doesn't include in EVERYTHING!!

Jun 5, 2013 5:13PM
This world would be a much better place to live if everyone took a day off from being so PC and enjoyed humor for what it was ..a joke...not the end of a moral society...not the end of religion.... it does beg the question  do Catholic priests use condoms when they molest altar boys in the confessional booths?
Jun 5, 2013 5:30PM

You can just hear the panties bunching....

gah this world/society/country whatever you want to say is so effed up!

Jun 5, 2013 5:15PM

Moving "on to a new sphere" ? Is that adspeak for We packed the pooch on this one. Lets go see what's going on at Chrysler.

Jun 5, 2013 5:26PM
Last I checked, a "sphere" was a round object.  So, she is moving on to a new "sphere".- Is she delivering condoms to that new "sphere"?
Jun 5, 2013 5:28PM
Social media of all types is way too vulnerable to be trusted with any kind of advertising campaigns such as this one.  I don't care how hard you try there are always those out there with the wherewithal and the mentality to deliberately scam the advertiser as well as the public.  I remember when Pit Bull called for a vote to determine his concert venue and a bunch of kids sent him to Alaska.  To his credit he honored that vote.  A class act if you ask me even after a bunch of dorks on the internet made a sham of it.
Jun 5, 2013 5:20PM
Mmmmmmmm condoms, now I need to go get a grilled cheese sandwich.
What a stupid advertising program. More stupid are the people who actully buy a product like this over the net. Are they safe?  Where is the factory? Ugh!
Jun 5, 2013 5:25PM
At they end of the, day, the product is a penis wrap.  Everyone who uses Durex knows it's the worst condom.  Use Lifestyles.  Back when I was single, I used Lifestyles spermicide lubricated.  Best condom I have ever used.  I'll bareback it before I use Durex.  They suck.  
Jun 5, 2013 7:36PM
Send them to Washington, DC....Congress and the Executive branch are screwing us every day!!!!
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