The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Stephen Lepitak, -

June 25, 2015 | 4 min read

Durex has no plans to advertise with or sponsor any hook-up apps such as Tinder or websites facilitating affairs anytime soon, according to Ukonwa Ojo, head of global brand equity for Durex and KY at Reckitt Benckiser.

Ojo was speaking at the Cannes Lions Festival on a panel with The Drum's team behind a new online documentary, The Big Turn On, which explores the rise of sex technology and features Make Love Not Porn founder Cindy Gallop, Mirror Online technology editor Olivia Solon and Alix Fox, the journalist and sex educator.

"There is a greater mobilisation which is helping people all around the world when it comes to sex, and that is happening predominantly in the US. If you launch something online, everybody in the world has access to it. We are definitely seeing greater comfort talking about sex and we are seeing and experiencing things that are a little bit more different and unconventional in countries outside of the US," Ojo told The Drum.

"It's a big social responsibility for the brand. We want to make sure that people practice sex but that they do that safely and within their comfort level. We are definitely seeing a split in the different governments who are willing to work with us to inform their communities about safety, contraception and talking about sex more openly based on cultural limitations and in some cases legal limitations. Some countries are not there yet but we are definitely seeing a change and governments being more open to partner with us to help drive that change in behaviour."

On the rise of sex tech, she pointed to the brand's research on the topic, which suggested the majority of the world falls between one of two categories: 'lovers or gratifiers.'

She said the world had been "made easier" for gratifiers, who do not seek an emotional attachment from a sexual encounter.

"It's not that the world is changing, it's that it's easier people who fall into certain categories to find each other," she added.

On the subject of whether Durex would work with affairs networking site, Ashley Madison, she was quite definite that it would not.

"People think; 'it's Durex, it's sex, they must do everything' but we have a set of values as a brand, just like human beings do, and my job is to figure out what that is and enforce it. We believe that the best sex is between a couple that connect emotionally and physically. As a brand we are targeted towards lovers so if you are in a committed relationship and you are seeking another relationship and the person you are currently emotionally connected to is not aligned with that, then Durex is not aligned with that.

"Ashley Madison is not a site we would partner with or advertise on. We have seen a tremendous amount of growth over the last few years and we have continued to grow while staying true to our core values as well."

Ojo admitted that in the past, sex innovations had been focused on the male's experience, something that is changing to make the experience pleasurable for all involved parties.

Finally, when asked about brands partnering with sex tech platforms, she reiterated her stance that it is about what is best for the brand.

"It's a subject that a lot of people still feel uncomfortable talking about. As a brand, talking to a consumer, if there is a platform or forum where you can talk to likeminded folks based on your brand values, we say go for it.

"For us the important thing is to take the time to figure out what your values are. In the sex industry you are going to find platforms that are aligned with your values and platforms that are not. You need to do your homework about where you fall because there is always going to be the extreme. It's about what you stand for."

The Big Turn On film is presented by The Drum's reporter Natalie Mortimer and produced by Sam Scott.

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