Grassroots Effort Backs Sir Richard's Condoms

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Is there a business case for condoms that do good? With Sir Richard's Condoms, Boulder, Colo.-based design firm TDA_Boulder is hoping so. The company created the for-profit line of virtuous condoms with agency and outside equity partners. Now the brand is launching grassroots efforts in New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boulder, Colo., and Austin, Texas to support the brand's expanded retail distribution through Whole Foods and Walgreens.

The cause model for Sir Richard's condoms, which come in handkerchief-style plaid packages, is that for each condom purchased one is donated in a developing country -- initially Haiti. And they are made from 100% natural latex.

The campaign for the brand, which was developed by the agency, involves the dissemination of lime green fanny packs on locked bicycles and public spaces. The packs come with a square hang tag/ booklet that reads: "This is a complimentary fanny pack. When worn as a fashion accessory by a man, it makes for excellent birth control. No man has ever been seduced while wearing a fanny pack in the history of the fanny pack. In the event you prefer your birth control to involve actual intercourse, may we suggest Sir Richard's Condoms."

The teams are targeting such commuter bikes as single speeds, cruisers and town bikes that are parked near Whole Foods and Walgreens stores. The agency, whose other clients include FirstBank, Webroot, Boyer's Coffee, Justin's Nut Butter and Avery Beer, says the strategy selects for active as well as socially and environmentally conscious consumers.

Jonathan Schoenberg, creative director at TDA_Boulder, tells Marketing Daily that Sir Richard's just went coast-to-coast at Whole Foods. "This is a way to support certain regions," he says, adding that in addition to Walgreen's/Southern California, the brand is in boutiques and upscale hotels, including Paul Smith, Fred Segal, Viceroy Hotels, and Wynn Hotels. "We have been advertising as we enter new markets, but have limited funds. The fanny packs are designed to support our national inclusion in Whole Foods with occasional mention of other retailers in specific cities."

Until now, Sir Richard's has done campaigns in New York and Southern California and for specific events, according to Schoenberg, who explains that the brand was official condom at Bonaroo; Shecky's; and Pride Parades in places like San Diego, Boulder, and San Francisco.

He said equity partner funding for the brand came about because "lots of people saw how we could do good in the world while building a more relevant condom company; there's a huge shortage of condoms in developing countries," he says. "We actually believe the condom market is ready for a new major brand that's culturally and emotionally relevant."

An agency study found that 20% of condom users are "Very Likely" to buy the brand over Trojan and Durex and that another 44% were "Likely to Somewhat Likely" to do so. "And in the short time we've been in the market, we've seen a huge resonance and interest. At this point, we're looking to manage the growth smartly," says Schoenberg.

A new study on cause marketing from Chicago-based Mintel suggests that while most people are not moved by cause marketing to purchase a product, those who are influenced by cause-marketing efforts will respond to brands supporting charities.

In the study, 85% of consumers said they do not "often" decide to buy a product based on a cause-marketing campaign, and just less than half of these consumers "sometimes" (40%) or "rarely" (46%) buy a product based on cause-related sponsorships.

"Because of the general disinclination to buy products because of a cause-related sponsorship, product marketers should not rely on a cause-driven campaign as the primary means for purchasing a product," says the study. "While a cause may sometimes convince some consumers to choose one brand over another, it is unlikely to be a significant deciding factor behind brand choice."

The study did suggest that Millennials show a "significantly higher" likelihood than the average respondent to buy a product based on the cause it supports. But 78% of Millennial-age respondents still reported not often deciding to buy a product based on support of a cause.

Conversely, people who are "often" or "sometimes" influenced by CRM efforts showed a significantly higher likelihood to "feel better buying from a company that supports a charitable initiative," according to the firm.

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