For a few years, in addition to its contraceptive use, another role of the condom has been added: to protect against sexually transmitted diseases, especially AIDS. But the fact is that only one brand became a leader on the French market: Durex. And this, without any advertising; because in 1987; the French law bans advertisement about male condom.
However, thirty years after the appearance of Durex, another brand of condoms establishes itself in France. Name: Manix. Designer: Degan laboratories. Characteristics: the thinness of its latex, what enables him to pride itself to be the finest on the market.
The advertising being always prohibited, and Durex particularly well established, Manix struggles to be known. The brand then starts with promotional events and sampling on a very targeted and extremely user population: the prostitutes. Without hesitation, from 1990, to go into a new distribution circuit: supermarket. The leader’s actions, Durex, as the challenger’s ones, Manix, change nothing though; and in 1997, only 3 customers out of 10 can name and ask for a specific condoms’ brand when they enter a pharmacy.
And yet Manix interests: with 18.7% of the French market of condoms in value in pharmacies and 22.9% in supermarkets, the brand had obviously succeeded in imposing itself. Direct consequence: in 1998, Degan laboratories steps down and Manix is sold to the Australian brand Ansell, world leader of latex medical products, more particularly surgical gloves.
Owner of ten other brands of condoms in Europe, and wishing to keep this strategy of local brands contrary to what Durex does, world brand, Ansell then changes nothing neither about the positioning of Manix, nor its manufacture, entrusted to the Japanese Okamoto.
Ansell changes nothing… but make a major decision: to insert Manix in advertising. The Manix communication was hitherto exclusively oriented towards the prescribers, mainly pharmacists. But in 1997, the global market of condoms stagnates: after the arrival of a new treatment against AIDS was announced, based on a Combination Therapy, the troops were demobilized… Manix being behind Durex, as well in market shares as in notoriety, it had to take action by working to create preference for its brand.
This is, indeed, the right moment: after years of crisis, French people seem to come back, in 1998, to their first loves, the sensual pleasures. Thus they place, for 70% of them, the sex among their priorities and, for 55%, the pleasure as their first motivation to make love.
In 1997, when Manix contacted its advertising agency, the market’s environment was: •a terrible context of uncertainty,
•an negative picture of the condom from the outset,
•an act of obliged purchase,
•a price considered to be too high,
•a slackening about preventive behaviours,
•a disengagement of the government,
•an advertising communication subjected to a visa from the AFSSAPS (or the FHPSA in English -- the French Health Products Safety Agency).
However, the problem is not as simple as it seems. First, because Manix; working on a small market; has a tight budget. But also because any communications about the male condoms, still considered by the French law as a drug, is subjected to the approval of the French Health Products Safety Agency. Result: a visa number is required before any advertising communication… what generally takes three months on average.
The last difficulty, but not the least: the subject remains a taboo. Taboo and not very gratifying: in 1998, only 40% of 15-24 years-old used a condom during every sexual relation. Quite simply, because the majority of them considered that wearing a condom reduced the sexual pleasure.
Lastly, the tone to adopt was not easy to work out: 68% of the purchasers of condoms are men, mainly recruited among the 18-34 years-old. But, as far as that population is...