Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Vive les non-prudish francais!
Say what you like about the French, but you have to take your hat off to their no-nonsense approach in the fight against AIDS.
SIDA, as the acronym is written in France, continues to be a major preoccupation of French medical authorities, with more and more creative ways being dreamed up all the time to educate the populus on its prevention.
Last month, the city’s streets were adorned with city authority-ordained posters depiciting the condom as “man’s best friend” and “woman’s best friend”. In a city which has a collective dog obsession, in a metropolis where dogs are happily accepted in restaurants and pooch-owners lavish untold amounts of attention and money on their mutts, the campaign is a clever reminder of the effectiveness of the the humble condom in the protection against the AIDS virus.
Then yesterday, when exiting my local neighbourhood pharmacy, I came across the Tetu-sponsored series of adverts, which struck me with their cheekiness and impact.
“The condom protects against AIDS” proclaims one of the posters, featuring the beaming face of a septugenarian. “Odette – 13874 condoms”.
It’s simple, it’s shocking but most of all it’s fun. The humour inherent in the posters takes nothing away from the seriousness of the subject matter. In fact, I’d argue, by turning AIDS advertising on its head – ie: by no longer hammering people with the doom, gloom, grim-reaper messaging – and instead playing up the fun side of sex (because yes, from experience I can faithfully and happily report it can be fun) the message conveyed is all the more effective.
In the same campaign, a photo depicts a teenage boy with a look of marvel and excitement on his face. “Kevin. One condom already,” the caption reads.
The brains trust behind the campaign is the French gay magazine Tetu, which launched an international campaign calling for fresh ways to convey the condom message.
“We received an impressive array of submissions from people of all ages,” explains Tetu’s Luc Biecq. “After much consideration, the jury selected this campaign. With a condom, there is pleasure, joy, the happiness of being able to love, freely, without exclusion.”
I love this about the French. The lack of prudishness when it comes to talking about matters as basic as sex. We all do it, the posters are saying - we might as well admit it and make sure we’re doing it safely.
Bravo, I say.