In June of 2013, Korean TV ran the first advertisement for condoms. A young man is busy in the house attaching something to furniture and even to a tree outside the house. He hears the door bell ring and rushes to open the front door. His girl friend outside has just dropped her handbag and is picking up the contents, which includes a pack of condoms made by the largest multinational in the field.
Writing in the Kyeongyang
magazine, a specialist in promoting the culture of life discusses the
methods used in selling condoms in Korea. Referring to the ad, he asks:
Why does it put two incompatible items together: a rosary ring on the
finger of the girl friend as she leans down to pick up the contents of
her bag, which contains a pack of condoms.
obvious intention is to show the use of condoms in a positive light, a
part of ordinary life. Though this attempt is easily accomplished with
the younger generation in Korea, it is not so easy with the older
generation. The marketing objective is clearly focused on desensitizing
us from one way of thinking, and moving us along to another. The young
girl, portrayed as a chaste, simple Catholic, has come to her boy
friend's house prepared to have a "safe" sexual encounter.
are familiar with the Church's teaching on premarital sex and
artificial contraception--not exactly what would increase the bottom
line for condom manufacturers, who feel the need to counter this
influence--if they are to increase their share of the market--by ads
that encourage sexual activity among those least likely to do so. The
multinational is working to create a new type of culture. The writer
shows this by the way they have treated the Catholic way of life in
their advertisements in the West. One example shows a father of 12
children who he is calling them by name from a second story house
window. Each one has a saint's name, and as he calls each one he begins
to stumble in the middle of the name calling, finding it difficult to
remember all the names. He wants them to come in to eat, and as the ad
ends, we see the tired face of the father and the words: "If only he had
known about condoms, he would not have had so many children to worry
Of course the company is not doing this in a vacuum: The
Church's teaching is not taken seriously by the Catholics themselves.
There is no need for a frontal attack on the Church when Catholics do
not see any problem with condoms and premarital sex. More of a problem,
he says, is aiming their words to the younger generation. In the
advertising segment shown on TV, we are shown a young man, alone at
home, attaching condoms all over the house and a tree outside, waiting
for his girl friend to arrive for sex.
writer recommends to parents a number of responses to this kind of
advertising. First, to complain about the marketing of sex to the young.
Second, be a wise consumer. Reckitt
Benckiser, the maker of the condoms, makes many household articles, any
of which could be the object of a shopper's boycott. (When one of their
humidifiers recently caused the death of a number of children, there
was no apology or compensation from the company.) Third, educating their
children about the media (media literacy) is necessary. Showing sex as
something without consequences is a lie, and should be exposed. Fourth,
simply becoming more aware of the many conditioning forces surrounding
us. We can excuse a commander who fails in battle, but one who has the
job of protecting and doesn't do the job is something quite different.
In the world of media, we have to be alert so as not to be deceived. The
company is spending big money to silently educate viewers with their
up-to-date tactics on how to influence us through the media. We also
should be as wise in combating this assault on our values.