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Wanted: Chief Sex Officer

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According to Chinese National Population and Family Planning Commission, young women aged 25 years old and below accounted for more than half of the 13 million abortion cases reported in 2013. This, along with sexually-transmitted diseases and illegal access to pornographic materials, meant that Durex needed to change their view on sex and promote the use of condoms.  

Condom advertising is strictly prohibited on traditional media and sex education is also highly restricted in schools so it is a huge challenge to communicate safe sex knowledge amongst the target audience beyond mainstream channels. 

While Durex is the leading condom in terms of total brand market share (40% based on client marketing data), the brand has a weak affinity on its target audience so they tend to “experiment” in their first few sexual encounters and try other condom brands. For instance, one of the respondents from Durex’s Focus Group Discussion mentioned: “I bought Durex in the convenience store when I was about to have sex for the first time because it has a good reputation after searching online. But after that, I tried some other brands and finally found my favourite one (not Durex).” 

Durex saw this as an opportunity to strengthen its brand preference by first educating the target audience on the importance of safe sex in a more relevant and highly engaging way. 


The campaign targeted college students aged 16-22 - a digital-savvy generation. Technology sits seamlessly in their normal lives. Since sex remains a sensitive topic in China, their curiosity towards sex is simply fed from information they get from their peers and illegal pornographic sites. This tends to distort their initial perceptions about sex as evidenced by a Durex and Ipsos qualitative study wherein they associate sex with words such as “Japanese Porn”, “sexy woman”, “orgasm” and “abortion”. 

In reality, however, it found in the same study that they still have lots of unanswered questions which they are also too shy to ask older people about… “What should I prepare before I have sex? Who do I ask?” and “What would he/she think if I bring a condom with me?”  

This then formed the consumer insight—“I need information to prepare me for sex so that I won’t panic when the time comes.” 

Through a collaboration with the agency, client and (one of China’s top social media platforms), the communications strategy created a platform for the youth to feel comfortable in collecting and sharing information on sex. Instead of straightforward advertising or hiring celebrity endorsers, ZenithOptimedia customised the communication to make it more relevant to them - hence the idea of recruiting youth brand ambassadors of sex education themselves. But the twist is, they have to earn it the hard way.  

This paved the way to launch a social media-driven online contest -Search for the CXO - CHIEF“XING” (Sex) OFFICER!   


With a catchy campaign slogan, the agency dared the target audience to join the “Chief Xing Officer” search at  

• In the first round, they were required to answer a series of sex knowledge tests. For example, “What is the composition of a man’s sperm?”, “Can I re-use a condom by washing it?” To help them pass the test, sex education videos were posted on Durex social platforms. Students who passed the exam were then allowed to upload their resume to qualify for the next round. 

• In the second round, 20 candidates were invited to participate in a sex education research among their friends. For example, one research task asked the candidates to think of ways a girl convince her boyfriend to use a condom before having sex? After gathering responses, the 20 candidates gave their friends Durex condoms as a token of appreciation after which they took a picture carrying Durex and a healthy sex information. Lastly, they need to write a summary with the hashtag #SOMEONELIKEME to generate more online conversations on RenRen. 

• One male and one female CXO were selected via online voting and eventually became Durex’s official ambassadors in China for “Someone Like Me”- a global event on youth sex education in partnership with MTV Staying Alive Foundation. The global event was created by Durex as a means to promote ways in overcoming barriers to safer sex and respectful relationships among the youth. 


No other brand in the category has launched this kind of massive and “brave” campaign in China, considering the country’s strict censorship policies. 

The campaign generated an enormous buzz from the youth. It attracted 391,215 participants (+160% versus planned KPI) since recruitment, each of them influencing 217 people on the average- that’s 85,112,418 people influenced in total (+250% versus planned KPI). Earned media generated RMB 1.2 Million ($182,497) in value (Source: Moreover, all the actual deliveries significantly surpassed expectations. 

- Impressions: 2,108,979 (+51% versus planned KPI) 
- Unique Views: 921,708 (+23% versus planned KPI) 
- Conversion Rate from Unique Site Visitor to Campaign Participation (i.e. took the Sex Knowledge Test): 51% (industry average is 20-30% based on AdMaster data) 

But most importantly, Durex’s “Chief Xing Officers” continued to be key opinion leaders beyond the campaign who encourages the youth to be more aware of their sexual health and bravely talk about sex amongst their peers. 

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Brand Owner:
Reckitt Benckiser
September - October 2014
Media Channel:
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  • FMAs shortlisted

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