Just when you think Hong Kong has plumbed the absolute depths of dismal marketing, something comes along to remind you that there is always another nadir of commercial promotion on the way.
The green insert, about 10 inches long, fell out of an apparently inoffensive copy of Hong Kong magazine. It had the word ‘immature’ at the top, a warning that only over-18s should open it at the bottom, and a picture of a baby’s dummy. The ring of the dummy was attached to a perforated strip which, when pulled back, revealed a single Big Boy brand condom in a pack announcing the product as ‘big size’ and ‘L size’ and featuring a horse. Under the pack was the word ‘mature’ and the outline of a ridiculously enlarged prophylactic with the slogan ‘actual size’.
The condom packaging on its own is quite funny – or at least it would be if we didn’t have a nagging feeling that the product developers, far from seeing it as a tongue-in-cheek joke, are serious. And we get that feeling because of the awfulness of the rest of this advertising concept. What is the connection between a baby’s dummy and a condom? Are we supposed to desire the product in order to assure ourselves that we do not have an infant-sized penis? Or is it a reminder that contraception averts pregnancy and thus such dread inconveniences as screaming newborns?
The manufacturer, Okamoto, is Japanese, which raises the vexed question of the variation of manhood-size among different ethnic groups. Is the brand aimed at men who want to assure themselves that they do not have Nipponese-scale genitalia? The consensus appears to be that while the stereotype of black-big, white-medium, Asian-small penises may have a bit of truth in it on average, individual male members’ dimensions vary far more. (Women who are tempted to say they can confirm a definite difference between races should first ask themselves what sample size a scientific survey would need to be statistically credible, and whether they wish to declare themselves to be, in essence, highly seasoned Wanchai hookers. Just to confuse the issue, women’s internal organs come in different sizes too. The terminally bored or curious may poke around here or here for more.)
The idea that a particular ethnic or other group needs a particular condom size is further discredited by the way latex works. An old trick among army sergeant majors is to unroll one of the things over his clenched fist and up to his elbow. They are designed to stretch that much in order to withstand considerable stresses and strains without breaking.
Men in Hong Kong and probably elsewhere will have noticed that rubbers do vary a bit in size; essentially, some but not all Asian brands are a noticeably tighter fit than Western products like Durex and Trojan. It is not unknown for some Western guys to claim to need the bigger ones, even though the sergeant major shows us that this isn’t really true. Perhaps it is conceit, or maybe they find the feeling of the tighter local brands unfamiliar. Given the effect on sensation, it seems odd to prefer either a condom or a vagina that is looser rather than tighter, within the bounds of physical practicality.
So maybe Big Boy is a bit larger than some other offerings in the Okamoto product range or on the Japanese market, and its target is the above-average, or self-perceived above-average, man. (Assuming you don’t care about the shop assistant, the only other person to see the ‘Extra Large’ item will be a woman who, by that stage, will be able to judge for herself how well endowed you are.)
And how big is it, after all that? On unwrapping the Big Boy, we find nothing more or less than a plain, everyday, standard-sized condom – if a rather nasty black colour. Big Boy is average. It takes two hands to do the fist-and-forearm trick, so I test it on a bottle of wine. I am no loss to the world of experimental science, and should have thought this through. Anyway, as the photo shows, the birth control and disease prevention device split in no uncertain manner halfway down.
Maybe the temperature was a factor here (the manufacturer probably doesn’t count on customers slipping these items onto something taken straight from the refrigerator). Maybe it is made of some non-latex synthetic material and doesn’t put up with extreme contortion. Maybe I am doing Okamoto a grave disservice, and their product is in fact fine.
Still, serves them right for such an atrociously, gut-wrenchingly bad marketing campaign.