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  • Writer's pictureOliver Lavender

Durex Anti War Campaign

Integrated Campaign Execution (Final Submission)

CDC200 Assessment 3

Oliver Lavender


Our aim is to persuade youth around the world who are sitting on the fence over the Ukrainian crisis to oppose war by appealing to their emotions.

It is important for the company to position itself as a socially conscious brand that upholds modern progressive ethics and condemns violent and abusive behaviour. In terms of ROI, this campaign is all about top of mind for Durex. The next time customers choose condoms they will remember how THIS brand stood up against injustice in a meaningful way. At POS this message will be strengthened by additional displays helping customers see how supporting Durex also supports peace. In a crowded market segment, customers will choose a trusted brand that is standing up for what is right.

To coincide with the campaign Durex should donate a dollar from each pack towards charities such as core and others that are helping with the day to day logistics of the war in Ukraine.

Partnering with charities such as CORE allows Durex to provide help where it is needed most. After 90 years in the sector it seems fitting that Durex is be able to assist Ukrainian refugees with obtaining essential, personal items such as hygiene products.

Embedded symbolism and Semiotic Language

The goal was to align with Durex's established brand identity system and create a simple, cohesive and thought provoking campaign. After researching almost every Durex campaign to date, the key connecting thread became apparent.

The clever, snappy tongue in cheek attitude of Durex's brand voice.

This voice has expressed itself in many forms over the years but one of the most consistent themes referenced is the use of objects composited on a plain (typically blue) gradient background. This is usually accompanied by concise, satirical copy that relates to the chosen image and makes the viewer solve a small visual puzzle. Often these posts revolve around trending topics and moment marketing.

Once the boundaries of the brief were defined, the next phase of prototyping involved looking at how Durex's classic, well defined humor could bring awareness to the tragedy unfolding day after day in Ukraine.

It was extremely important to never make light of the war or downplay the horror facing millions of Ukrainians. After experimenting with edgier concepts (i.e. condoms on guns), the use of juxtaposition, dichotomy and absurdity have ultimately proven the most effective way to win people's attention and stay true to Durex's brand voice. The biggest challenge has been ensuring that the severity of the war is communicated clearly, but in a way that is believely Durex. There will of course be some portion of people who are offended by this campaign, but this can also be viewed as a sign of its success. You have to "break a few eggs to make an omelette" as they say.

The next step was to incorporate pun driven copy relating to weapons of war, creating a link between good and bad - the socially acceptable and the morally objectionable (bordering on the ethically absurd). The use of Durex's colour system was used to accentuate the message of Good and Bad, using universal semiotic conventions such as Green = Good & Red = Bad, enhanced with opposing symmetry in the layout, conveying the dichotomy of love and war.

This message is further augmented by the use of Gestalt principles such as simplicity, figure and ground (easy to read), proximity (elements are divided/grouped by negative space), similarity (colour, typeface, layout), continuity (theme), closure (thought experiment/visual puzzle), common region (elements are placed in the same locations) and element connectedness within each design.

Another point of inspiration and cultural reference was the quote made famous by John Lennon; "Make Love, Not War". Given this was in reference to another senseless war waged over 40 years ago, it was decided the concept could be modernised - bringing the ideals of "radical love" to a millennial audience in an edgy, humorous and relatable style.

Finally, target platforms were researched and concepts were crafted with a focus towards traditional print media formats such as subway posters billboard displays. These were chosen due to their impact and presence. Our message is big and so are our ads! The goal is to start a conversation - and that begins with the man/woman on the street. Our mission is to change public opinion surrounding the way people view the war in Ukraine, using the power of juxtaposition and post-irony to demonstrate the futility of war (and the fertility of peace).

The other space where Durex's voice is amplified is of course its social media platforms. A series of solo and carousel style posts have been created, aimed at raising awareness of the campaign and promoting the hashtag #STAYPROTECTED amongst the target demographic identified in the research phase. There is much broader scope to be explored beyond the extent of this pitch, but certain restraint had to be exercised in focusing on the core message.

Given more time the campaign could include POS materials and a website linked to the #STAYPROTECTED hashtag that allows users to find more information on Durex's pledge along with links to organisations and charities that have "boots on the ground". Related packaging and motion design could also be used to further extend the cohesiveness of the campaign across different touch points.






A Personal Note:

As a design student, I wanted to challenge myself with this assessment in terms of trying out shock value. We have been exposed to a number of edgy campaigns over the last two years and I wanted to throw my hat in the ring. I also felt the need to express the satirical and dark humored side of my creativity. As time progressed I realised I was able to create something that still aligned with Durex's IP and became more "trojan horse" than "purple cow".

An example of this can be seen with the first image in this assignment. Although it is powerful in tone and message, its lack of subtlety betrays its ability to "camouflage" in the way later iterations do.

By using the brands ID system ("camouflage"), the delivery feels more powerful to me because it's an unusual message delivered in an authentic voice. The kind of thing big brands SHOULD be saying, but aren't. When the viewer realises that something is amiss (or perhaps unsettling) within the messaging of the ad it provokes them to ponder the deeper meaning and wider connections being suggested to them. "The medium is the message".

I would love another round of revision at this point as I feel that the design is close but could do with further refinement. The call to action could be strengthened in many ways, but what was interesting to me was being able to focus on idea that this campaign falls more heavily in the realm of "top of mind" advertising than CTA driven models. This allowed me to focus on larger themes and play with the connections between abstract concepts.


Adobe Stock,. (2022). Adobe Creative Cloud. [Stock Photo Library].

Google Images,. (2022). Google Image Search. [Search Engine Library].

Free Instagram Template 2019,. (2019). Anagram Design [Template].

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