Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Condom, Condom, Condom

By Thomas Henning

I’ll own it. I love technology. I love the comfort; the whimsy; the convenience it brings into my life.

I adore when my phone rings and the theme song from Dynasty plays, letting me know that it is one of my high-maintenance friends calling. I appreciate that I can have the number and address of the restaurant I am meeting friends at sent to me via text message when I call information. I even love that I can go online and send people “hugs, pokes, and an occasional piece of flair.”

Imagine how excited I was when I found I could download a ringtone that repeated the jingle “condom, condom.” I mean, I spent two hours re-assigning the appropriate people on my phone list with the new ring tone. The jingle is super catchy and so damn cute it had me giggling harder than I did as a child watching Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares.

Okay, so here is the story. Recently, the BBC World Service Trust, an international charity of BCC, produced a cellular phone ring tone in India that recites a jingle repeating the words “condom, condom,” and have made it available to download for free online, at Oh yeah, click this site

This is phase III in a 4-part campaign targeted at making condoms socially acceptable and improving the image of condom users as a smart and responsible people. Campaign organizers are hoping this new approach will spark discussion among people about HIV/AIDS and practicing safe sex.

Love this campaign and think it is a great first step into using new forms of media to engage people, especially youth, about safer sex, HIV/AIDS prevention tools, and thoughts around said tools.

In fact, Cable Positive is launching a program to do just that. A program that educates and empowers youth to create their own multi-platform media campaign with an HIV/AIDS message aimed at their peers. You hear me, a message created by youth for youth. In fact, they will be driving the process and given the tools to take back to their community to educate and inspire their peers to do the same. Cable Positive, and the YAMI team, will be arming the youth with the education and know-how to use media, in all its various forms, as an advocacy tool.

Our initiative, called The Youth AIDS Media Institute, or YAMI for short, takes direct aim at young people, and the important role they play in halting the spread of new HIV infections. Right now, the first phase of YAMI is underway in the form of a community outreach grant. The grant will fund projects like web-based training sessions created by young people, and a text messaging campaign produced by youths.

Young people are a key demographic in halting the spread of HIV because they are unique in the ways they can be reached. Youths account for one of the largest at risk populations for contracting the disease, yet they subscribe to the most diverse array of media channels on the planet. In the US cell phone use is higher than anywhere else on the planet, especially in urban areas like New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles where land lines are like VCRs.

Standing O to the BBC World Service Trust and their “condom, condom” campaign. They clearly get it. Meeting your audience where they are at is not only good business it is good sense. You mobilize entire communities by engaging them where they live and giving them motivation to share what they learn with others. They empowered and educated the people of India and the people of India enjoyed it so much they shared it with others.

That is my vision for Cable Positive’s YAMI program and we are already on our way. Through the YAMI Community Outreach grant, we are providing funding for youth to use new media platforms to make a change in their communities. Cable Positive with the help of Motorola, and the entire cable industry, will continue to help spread HIV/AIDS awareness messages in an even larger scale in the months to come. Better yet, we will continue to encourage and inspire young people to do the same. Like I said, I love technology.

By the way, go to and download that ringtone. I am telling you, it will generate more buzz than Gossip Girl and isn’t that the point?

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