As celebrations for Canada 150 continue, a recent contest provided Canadians a more intimate way to celebrate the 150th year since Confederation — condom wrappers, in a long line of campaigns meant to increase conversation about sexual health and condom use.
As part of the 150 celebration, ONE Condoms put out the call to the country’s artistically inclined asking them to submit a design for a new condom wrapper that celebrates Canada.
Hundreds of submissions were received and contest judges narrowed that number down to 50 designs. Then, the public had their say and after more than 14,000 votes, the contest reached its climax.
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The company holds four campaigns each year internationally as well as “special” contests with regions or public health organizations as a way to increase conversation about sexual health.
Milla Impola, the marketing manager with ONE, said the company tries to provide designers a way of getting their artwork seen nationally and internationally, while also trying to combat the common stigma surrounding condom usage.
“It’s to get people talking about condoms in an interesting and fun way so that you can actually get people to want to use condoms.”
Similar campaigns have been held across the country, including by Toronto Public Health and Sexual Health Saskatoon, the latter who released four condom wrappers based around four Saskatchewan community names with a cheeky slogan last year.
The Saskatoon organization said the campaign, of which previous wrapper-related campaigns have occurred in past years, was about finding an innovative way to improve their provincial HIV strategy and encourage young people to use condoms.
Executive director Jillian Schwandt told Global News that prior to the “Wrap It Up” campaign, they were distributing about 80-90,000 condoms per year, and through the campaign, they had distributed 108,000.
Schwandt said the cheeky slogans or interesting designs can prompt usage just through a different style of condom wrapper.
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“Anecdotally, we recently had a funny situation where one of our partners said that the youth didn’t like the condoms that we had before, they found that the condom itself was just not up to what they wanted to be using,” she said. “But they loved the ‘Wrap it Up’ condoms and they found that those condoms were so much better. The funny thing is, they’re the exact same condom just with a different wrapper on them.
“We can look at the evidence and say these initiatives really work, they increase accessibility and usage, and anecdotally we have these stories that let us know that this was something that the youth in our community really liked and really wanted to use.”
Asked if the rate of usage went down following the campaign, Schwandt said the “spike” in people taking condoms never went down and she’s even received calls from across the province from organizations who want the condoms in their community and health centres.
Toronto has also seen a boost of interest in condoms following their own campaigns held recently. According to Toronto Public Health spokesperson Lesley Belows, the organization promoted city-branded condoms and a “condomTO” design contest to local colleges and universities in September 2016.
WATCH: Toronto Public Health rolled out its edgy, city-branded condoms Wednesday morning.
Since then, she said in an email, health clinic front-line workers have seen an increase in interest of their condomTO civic pride edition wrappers. In addition, TPH has also been receiving requests for the winning condom designs from the condomTO contest.
Global News also asked Sexual Health Nova Scotia if condom wrapper designs have shown an increase in people taking condoms, but Conor Falvey said in an email that SHNS centres mainly distribute ordinary brand-name condoms.
“So we don’t have any evidence about whether unique wrapper designs encourage condom usage,” she said.
For the ONE Condoms contest, one winner was chosen from Toronto, but of the five runners-up in the contest, three were from Nova Scotia.
Ryan Abrams, a Toronto/Halifax-based designer and art director created his design showing a bed with two speech bubbles saying “sorry.” Abrams said on ONE’s artist website that his condom wrapper design is a means to remind Canadians and leadership “that sometimes ‘sorry’ isn’t good enough.” He goes on to reference that Canada was “founded on stolen Indigenous land.”
Julie Martin from Gardiner Mines, N.S., now living in Ottawa, created the “Tall Toque” and said she didn’t want to go too stereotypical, figuring people would “make beaver puns and Mountie Jokes.”
Chelsea Atkinson, the third runner-up from Truro, N.S., showcased a male and female moose having a good old-fashioned Canadian romp in the woods.
The winning design was by Emma Scott of Toronto, which shows a bucket with the Canadian maple leaf emblazoned on the front hanging on a syrup tap as a steady stream of maple syrup pours into the bucket. Above the tap are the words “I’d Tap That”. Her all-plaid wrapper design, “Get Plaid,” was also voted as a runner-up.
A. E. Thompson, also of Ontario, was the fifth runner-up with his design of a loonie.
Regional winners were also selected by the contest judges, including “One Nation,” a map of Canada “celebrating one nation,” by S. Williams of Dartmouth, N.S. The other four winners from Quebec City, Que., Lake Country, B.C., and Stoney Creek, Ont., feature images including two bears getting “a lil wild”, a hockey puck and rink, and a snake wrapper entitled “Snakebite.”
Staff at ONE also chose 29 additional “Staff Picks,” including “Toque One” by Nathan Manley from New Brunswick which shows a very long toque on top of a man’s head, and an interesting slogan from Sarah Fang in Saskatoon.
Each of the winners receives a prize to allow them to intimately celebrate Canada 150 safely all year with a year’s supply of condoms featuring their winning artwork. On top of that prize, they also receive a cash prize, an artist profile at onecondoms.ca, and a donation of condoms to the Canadian health organization of their choice — the winner gets 10,000 while the runners-up get 7,000. A bigger donation of 150,000 condoms will also be given by ONE to various Canadian organizations dedicated to promoting sexual health education and outreach.
A release says the condoms featuring the “One Canada Collection” will be available through select retailers in Canada. Public health clinics and health organizations will also house the condoms later this year.