Worlds Aids Day: India's Condom! Condom! Ringtone Public Health Campaign For "Real Men"

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Dec 02, 2008

In our day-long coverage of innovative HIV/AIDS campaigns, here is one from India.  The question:  How can you encourage men to use condoms to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS?  The answer: Drive up sales of condoms with an innovative and often tongue-in-cheek multi-media campaign, including catchy ringtones featuring the jingle Condom Condom.

The BBC World Service Trust, the charitable arm of the BBC, has been running a public health campaign in four states in southern India and has now launched a campaign to make clear that "smart men use condoms."

Here is one scene, played out at a wedding: a mobile ringtone buzzes with a loud refrain "condom! condom!"  The BBC Trust writes: "Embarrassing for the person holding the mobile phone? Not a bit of it - the reaction of those around the red-faced man is to see him as smart and responsible."

There are an estimated 2.5 million people infected with HIV in India, and the numbers are growing. Radharani Mitra, Creative Director of the BBC World Service Trust India, describes the thinking behind the campaign on the BBC Trust website:

"Ringtones have become such personal statements that a specially created condom ringtone seemed just the right way of combining a practical message with a fun approach. We have always had a strong interactive, response-led component in this ongoing campaign. This downloadable ringtone provides an opportunity for our audience to translate a message into an action. The idea is to tackle the inhibitions and taboos that can be associated with condoms."

The Trust asserts that the two-year multi-media campaign to encourage the use of condoms that has already reached over 100 million people in India. So far, the new ringtone seems to be popular  In its first two weeks, the ringtone has been downloaded 60,00 times.

Find out more about the whole campaign at, watch the ‘wedding scene' advert, and listen to or download the ringtone.

So how is the campaign working so far?  According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the campaign has pushed up sale of the contraceptive by 85 million in six months. The campaign, including television and radio advertisements, have reached 150 million men, especially migrant workers who frequent sex workers, according to the BBC Trust.  Health officials are aiming at sales of three billion condoms annually by 2010 from the current 1.7 billion as well as the use of female condoms by improving the retail network.

"Our previous campaign has encouraged people to start talking about the condom," said Yvonne MacPherson, India director of the charity.

The condom ringtone was launched in August and has been downloaded by 660,000 people by November, the BBC charity said. The Trust also notes that "mobile telephones have an important role to play..with a phone-in competition and mobile phones as prizes.  Nearly 400,000 calls were made by people responding to TV, radio and outdoor advertisements to participate in the contest."

The campaign has been funded by Bill and Melinda Gates' Foundation. The BBC World Service Trust is also involved in health and HIV and AIDS projects in Angola, Cambodia, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Vietnam.

Photo courtesy BBC Trust

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br> <b><i><blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options