Condom delivery service advert caused a stir
A service which enabled customers to have Durex condoms delivered to their door in Dubai has been suspended after just one week of operations.
Durex launched an online ‘SOS condom’ delivery scheme in the emirate last week - the only place in the world where the programme was running. By clicking on the mobile app customers could order the product to be delivered to an address anywhere in Dubai between the hours of 4pm and 4am.
Advertising a “discreet and professional delivery team”, the promotional video for the service insisted the delivery man would be dressed in disguise - as either a pizza delivery boy, lost tourist or a policeman. However, UAE cultural expert Nasif Kayed, general manager of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Dubai, yesterday labelled the campaign “totally inappropriate”.
He stressed that he was not furious over the product itself as “married people have to use a condom” but the manner in which it was promoted “encouraged promiscuity”.
However, last night a representative for Durex said the campaign was over. Before it was scrapped, the advert, featuring a series of seemingly unmarried couples in intimate positions, had attracted more than 705,200 hits on YouTube. It included a young couple kissing passionately in a stationary car - an act that could land you with a public indecency charge in the UAE. Kayed added: “From a religious perspective, it is totally inappropriate. To promote such a sin is more sinful than the sinner. It is damaging to a younger generation.”
Some YouTube commenters were equally surprised by the Durex campaign.
“Ironic that it’s available in one of the places in the world where one can go to jail for pre-marital sex,” said one. A Durex representative told 7DAYS on Wednesday night: “The project was part of a broad initiative. It was a pilot being tested to ascertain both its compatibility and relevance. Following the completion of our assessment, the project has already ended.”
7DAYS reporter Duncan Hare was able to test the delivery app before it was stopped. Here’s what happened:
Enter details into the app: name, address, phone number - and, eh, what kind of 12-pack product you require. Within five minutes, a call from an unknown 055 number.
“Hello?,” I hesitantly inquire.
An Indian voice replies: “Hello Sir, you ordered the uh, the uh, the uh (gulp) condoms?” He then proceeds to double check my Dubai location - and insists delivery will be “within the hour”, just as is promised on the SOS ad. I ask whether my delivery man will be ‘a discreet’ pizza boy, lost tourist or cop - as the commercial says they will.
“All our deliverymen wear red shirts and a cap, sir,” the SOS man replies, before reminding me the cost for my purchase is Dhs55 - cash on delivery. Will it be a discreet delivery? “Yes of course, sir.”
We hang up and my app now says ‘943’ on it. After just a handful of days of the service being rolled out, does this mean I’m the 943rd person in Dubai to use SOS? An hour and 37 minutes later the doorbell rings. A young deliveryman stands before me in a red shirt and black cap discreetly carrying a white paper bag containing the purchase.