India has a condom problem

In India, social stigma is getting in the way of effective condom marketing -- and it’s hitting the industry hard.

Earlier this week, India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting deemed condom commercials “indecent” and altogether banned them from prime-time television.

The move isn’t just a blow to the country’s sex protection industry: it’s a clear example of how India’s traditional conservatism and its ballooning population are often at odds.

The country has a weird relationship with condoms

With 1.32B people, the country’s on pace to usurp China as the most populous nation on Earth in the next decade.

Since 1960, condom makers have pushed to appropriately market their wares with Bollywood stars and condoms that come in more flavor options than a Baskin Robbins ice cream freezer.

But it’s all been for naught: today only 6% of Indian people use condoms (compared to 30% in European countries) — and over the past 8 years, condom use has actually declined by 52%…

So, advertisers have started getting more risqué

But recently, they took things a little too far: one ad featured an ex-porn star disrobing and beckoning a young man to bed on their wedding night.

India’s regulatory bodies (which skew culturally conservative) were aghast and quick to propose a ban. Now, all condom ads will only be on TV between the very unsexy marketing hours of 10PM and 6AM.

The country itself is split: While many rural residents still frown upon the open discussion of sex (safe or not), others argue that safe sex publicity — even if slightly crude — should be encouraged.

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