India’s Cellular Ringtone Boosts Country’s Condom Sales, Officials Say
Condom sales in India increased by 85 million in the months following a media campaign featuring a cellular phone ringtone that says "condom, condom," officials at India's National AIDS Control Organization said on Friday, AFP/Philippine Daily Inquirer reports (AFP/Philippine Daily Inquirer, 11/14). The ringtone was launched earlier this year by the BBC World Service Trust and features a professional singer repeating the word "condom" more than 50 times. It is part of NACO's efforts to reach youth through projects such as films, online games, mobile advertising and downloads, as well as television and radio advertisements to engage young people in discussions about safer sex (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/20). According to AFP/Inquirer, 660,000 people have downloaded the ringtone since August.
The media campaign includes radio and television advertisements, and 150 million men -- including migrant workers who frequent commercial sex workers -- have been reached through the campaign. Yvonne MacPherson, BBC World Service Trust country director for India, said the campaign has "encouraged people to start talking about the condom." The trust on Friday launched a mass media campaign that features a dog called Condom. According to AFP/Inquirer, Indian health officials hope to reach a target of distributing three billion condoms annually by 2010 -- an increase from the current target of 1.7 billion. Officials also aim to increase the use of female condoms by improving the retail network.
Sujatha Rao, head of NACO, said that "huge problems" still exist in promoting condom use in the country, adding that commercial sex workers have said that men "would rather pay more than use a condom." Rao also said the organization's "biggest barrier is the lack of a proper marketing network." The United Nations estimates that 2.4 million people in India are living with HIV/AIDS (AFP/Philippine Daily Inquirer, 11/14).