Durex Screws Itself in South Africa
#DurexJoke Social Media Campaign Blows Up in Condom Maker's Face
Durex tried its hand at a Twitter campaign in South Africa, but did it wrong. Starting the #DurexJoke hashtag probably seemed like a good idea, and, in more experienced hands, may have worked.
However, the Durex Twitter campaign went horribly wrong. The company itself tweeted a blatantly sexist message: "Why did God give men penises? So they'd have at least one way to shut a woman up."
The South African new-media community noticed right away. YehBaby, a Cape Town-based creative agency, tweeted, "This particular Twitter fumble from Durex SA stands out as one so supremely tone deaf, offensive and insensitive... "
Of course, Durex blamed the ad agency, Euro RSCG. When Jen Thorpe of Feminist SA challenged Durex on the offensive tweet, the company replied thusly:
@FeministsSA We have posted many jokes, see our timeline… And they not violent against woman! Re-read it!!!!!
Aside from suggesting that Euro RSCG hire more grammar-savvy tweeters, we must say that re-reading the original tweet does not make it seem less offensive.
It is a self-perpetuating cycle. Norms that say men’s most important attribute is their penis, and that a woman better celebrate that by taking what she can get, are part of rape culture, which I argue is bad for everyone.
Durex SA's response to @FeministSA was particularly strange:
Apologies go out to @FeministsSA, but also thanks. You reminded us that rape and violence against women is still a major concern in SA.
With roughly 25% of men admitting to committing rape and an HIV infection rate that can only be described as terrifying, Durex somehow forgot that rape is "still a major concern"?
So, what can we learn from this?
- Don't tweet rape jokes as part of a social media campaign. Probably best not to tweet rape jokes at all; just ask Forrest Griffin.
- Don't blame the ad agency. If you sign off on a campaign, it's your throat to choke: your brand will always be the face of business-to-consumer communication. The public doesn't care who your ad agency is.
- When you inevitably have to apologize, do so directly and plainly. Don't pass the buck.
- See item 1. As Bas Rutten says, "Don't you ever do this!"
Now the #QantasLuxury gong show doesn't seem quite so bad.