India’s Nirodh Condoms Didn’t Last Very Long

India’s Nirodh Condoms Didn’t Last Very Long
Adnan Abidi

In a sex-shy country, where the act of purchasing a condom is as challenging as diffusing a bomb, manufacturers are not afraid to come up with something new and different. From classic flavors like strawberry, vanilla, chocolate and some experimental ones that made us cringe. But the Sex Life of Indian adults was not as multicolored as it is now.

The story of power protection dates back to 1960s when Independent India was just in its adolescent stage. While buying a condom is still a mission today, it was introduced in a very unusual way. Mass distributed by the Government at 5 paise per piece it was a scheme to control the population which was the nation’s major concern. At the time, India’s population was already at 470 million and was expected to double over the next three decades.

A historic name now, Nirodh started out as Kamaraj (Indian God of Love) a name people could identify with but the then Congress president had the same name - K Kamraj. So Nirodh stuck with the aim to take care of nation’s major concern. Even with 400 million condoms exported to the USA, Japan and Korea, most of the stock remained unused as it turns out people do say NO to free stuff if it’s unattractive and plain.

Although Nirodh Condoms made a public entry, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that it took to television and ad promotion, but that didn’t stir up things either. The advertisements gave no relevant information about the condom, its use or even its availability.

While Nirodh was targeting married couples and promoting the family planning movement, HLL’s new brand Kamasutra took the nation’s television screens by storm. With erotic images of Bollywood actors, condoms were linked to pleasure for the first time. Even with the distribution of about 650 million condoms each year, the white plastic covered condoms were a turn off for many. To change this perception, the health ministry and government decided to give Nirodh condoms a little makeover. The ministry agreed to add attractive images of couples but not go too far after all condoms are still a conservative affair in India.

Even with a new avatar, Nirodh couldn’t last too long, the brand fell out of favor I the face of its competition from Durex and Kamasutra and other private brands. While Nirodh just considered sex to be an activity for married couples, these new brands started targeting the youth to initiate the conversation about safe sex. With colorful packaging and attractive advertisements, these new brands made sure the sex life of Indian adults is not paler.

Condoms are, just like sex, still a taboo subject in the country but brands like Durex are changing their focus from married couples to the younger lot, with fun and easy campaigns they making the conversation around safe sex interesting and encouraging. Failing to understand good marketing and advertising strategy Nirodh pulled out from the industry faster than it expected to stay.

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