On Wednesday evening, a handful of CU-Boulder students will be trying to improve the planet -- by handing out condoms.
Jim Moscou, the CEO of Sir Richard's, calls himself a "recovering journalist," with a résumé that includes work as a contributing editor for the media-industry mag Editor & Publisher. And while the journalism biz is struggling these days, he definitely sees condoms as a growth industry.
"There's a general sentiment that we're still using our father's father's condom," he says. "You look at companies like Trojan, which are selling this really sophomoric approach to its use. So we saw an opportunity in the marketplace to build a brand that's much more relevant for condom users today. It's a company built by a group of creative social entrepreneurs and designers who asked, 'Can we build a better condom company that does good in the world from its inception?'"
Hence, the one-for-one model, in which Sir Richard's promises to donate one condom in developing countries for each one sold. The need is great, Moscou points out. "There is a huge global shortage in the access of condoms," he notes, with less than 17 percent of the contraceptive needs met by organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund. He points out that donations for such services fell by more than 50 percent between 2000 and 2008.
As far as Moscou knows, the Sir Richard's approach is the first time one-for-one has been used with condoms, "and what's so neat about that is, it has such a direct impact. We know that when people have access to condoms, it reduces disease, assists with better family planning and makes for a better world."
Page down to read about a Sir Richard's giveaway scheduled for tomorrow. This concept naturally appeals to college students, who Moscou says began contacting the company when its products first became available earlier this year. From this outreach, Sir Richard's has developed a so-called "envoy" program, in which students on 25 campuses around the country, including CU-Boulder, volunteer to distribute condoms and spread the firm's theme of responsibility in the bedroom and beyond.
The concept definitely appeals to Sean DePaula, a CU undergrad. As a project for a writing-and-rhetoric class, he and several fellow students will distribute Sir Richard's condoms in the lobby of the Williams Village North dormitory from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow, November 30.
"We have no affiliation with the company," DePaula says, "but everyone we've talked to has been really receptive to the message. We're encouraging freshmen to use a condom each and every time they have sex. Some people might consider a condom to be a barrier, but it's really a way of bringing couples together through enhanced trust. If you know your partner cares about protecting you, an increased level of trust comes along with it."
Sir Richard's is supplying the condoms for DePaula's project, as well as coupons and stickers featuring their unusual plaid design -- a look intended to differentiate the firm's products from those of competitors and create an image meant to appeal equally to men and women.
Even as DePaula and company are handing out condoms, Moscou notes that Sir Richard's will receive its final count of sales for the year to date. At that point, an equivalent order will be shipped to Haiti under the auspices of Partners in Health, an organization with which the company is partnering for distribution and more. "We don't pretend to be experts on Haiti," Moscou concedes. "But Partners in Health are experts. We've reached out to them and other people there -- artists, local social activists -- with humility and respect, and said, 'Help us.' And that's what they're doing.
"We're trying to change the culture there and here," he adds. "We're trying to say, 'Here's something cool that will resonate in Haiti the same way it does in the U.S.'"
And, presumably, in the lobby of a Boulder dorm.
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