Condom site turns Strategy writer into Sex Expert

In a perfect world, the Kama Sutra would be required reading. Alas, it isn't. To rectify this, the think-tank at Toronto's Hotspex - the latex futurists that they are - have a solution. But before it hits the marketplace, they need some input.

In a perfect world, the Kama Sutra would be required reading. Alas, it isn’t. To rectify this, the think-tank at Toronto’s Hotspex – the latex futurists that they are – have a solution. But before it hits the marketplace, they need some input.

The online market research firm has set up a Web site to poll the thoughts of would-be consumers on new products. The latest brainstorm is an extension on the traditional condom brand for Cowansville, Que.-based LifeStyles.

Four minutes is all it takes according to an e-mail invitation, and to tempt me further I can win a digital camera just by completing the e-poll. By signing up I become a ‘Hotspex Innovator,’ so I get ready to innovate.

It’s a five step-process, which starts with the site warning me that it’s a ‘Top Secret Concept’ in which I can become a ‘Sex Expert.’ Intriguing. That digital camera prize sounds even more appealing now.

The first page of the poll is primarily background. It asks what magazines I read and why. Options range from Cosmo to Maxim, but no porn is offered.

Sponsored Q&A polls highlight the right side of each page, offering marketing opportunities for other companies like LifeStyles. Surprisingly, the site isn’t overrun with ads; in fact, the only visible one is a tiny Telus logo. There’s a banner, but it’s just a collage of condoms.

‘Let’s talk a little bit about Condoms. Don’t worry, we’ll let you in on the Top Secret Concept in a minute,’ the second page reads. I’m asked for my preferences (I recommend condoms should be smooth, thin and purple), and where I normally purchase them (the drug store, of course).

On the third page, the rubber dialogue continues. ‘What’s the most important factor when purchasing?’ I check performance and feel. Why? ‘Because the condom should feel like it’s not even there. It should do its job while I do mine,’ I say.

I’m asked to design the ‘ultimate’ condom packaging. I suggest a clear package (like an old iMac)–that would be cool wouldn’t it? When will I find out the ‘Top Secret Concept,’ I moan before completing the page.

‘Check this out: Believe it because it’s true! Introducing a totally new idea from LifeStyles!’ the next page reads. My jaw drops after reading this: ‘New LifeStyles condoms with sexual collector’s cards!’ Why didn’t I think of that?

‘Outrageous? Definitely! Think you’re good in bed?’ I’m glad that’s not part of the poll, I muse. The blurb continues: ‘We’re going to help you be even better. Sexual collector’s cards are going to be packed full of sexually enhancing goodness; Pure, hot and tasteful sexual content you won’t be able to get enough of.’

Got it, need it, got it, need it. Bartering just took on a whole new meaning.

Below there’s a sample. It resembles an unholy hockey card: the position is called the ‘Sexy Scissor.’ It has a wild rating of 7 and a difficulty rating of 5. It’s #32; oh man, I need that one! Oh wait, I’ve got doubles, can I trade you?

I catch my breath and continue the poll. I’m asked to propose content for the cards: ‘I call it the Double Daffy,’ I write, smirking. ‘You need a hammock and lots of energy–drink some ginseng before attempting. You need to be swinging at a fairly good pace to execute this position.’ Next, the poll hints there would be rare cards along with those in regular circulation – mercy, I just got the Double Daffy nookie, pardon me, rookie card!

The poll ends on the fifth page with pricing information, and I recommend that an eight-pack of rubbers with three trading cards should cost no more than $10.

‘Condoms have been so pharmaceutical for so long, it’s time they get up to speed with the market. Sexiness and sensuality work with this product,’ explains Brett Willms, VP product development at Hotspex. ‘I don’t think it has to be a novelty either. It will be a mainstream product, carried in a place like Shoppers Drug Mart.’

Other Innovators love the idea too–65% so far. Of the 1,500-plus people who have participated so far, Willms says the feedback has been ‘exceptional.’ Each Innovator is chosen from Hotspex’s database, and sent a personalized e-mail invitation (with an offer to win a digital camera as a juicy incentive). Suggestions for the trading cards have ranged from pointers for clumsy men on how to reach the coveted G-spot to finding out-of-the-ordinary places to ‘get it on.’

Sexual trading cards, although a novel idea, still might be a little risqué for LifeStyles. ‘We are concerned about the image of the brand,’ admits Sam Vella, sales and product manager at LifeStyles. ‘We’re an international company and we’re still not sure if the sex cards will give us a bad name.’

Fear not. If the idea is supported by both the Hotspex data and LifeStyles–and assuming the world does want to get that one step closer to perfection–the trading cards could hit stores as early as next January.

Keep an eye out for the Double Daffy.