A new Yukon Health department campaign is encouraging Canada Winter Games athletes to keep safe — whether they’re playing on the field or simply playing the field.
Alongside its run-of-the-mill safety info, the department has created a set of six collectible specialty condoms in clever packaging.
The safe-sex devices have struck a chord with youth.
And they are threatening to supplant pins as the most-tradable item at this year’s Games.
As part of its Play Safe, Play Hard campaign, Health produced 12,000 condoms packaged in cardboard cases that resemble giant matchbooks.
Each colourful package is labelled with a unique drawing and catchy double-entendre.
“Wanna score big in the pairs event?” reads one featuring a line drawing of a pair of figure skaters.
“Wanna parry and thrust?” reads another featuring a fencer brandishing a drooping rapier.
And then there’s “Wanna score?” featuring a hockey player targeting the goal.
Inside the cardboard package are instructions on proper condom use.
The campaign’s purpose is to get youth talking among themselves about health, said Yukon’s community health programs director Paula Pasquali.
On Wednesday night, while dropping a few baskets of condoms at the athletes’ village, Pasquali witnessed the plan in action.
“Immediately the athletes picked up the condoms, laughed, looked, shared them with others … that’s what we hope will happen — that they will generate dialogue.”
The imaginative contraceptives are part of an ongoing campaign Health has been running for about two years for special events like the Dawson City Music Fest and holidays like Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.
“It’s an opportunity to reinforce the message of making smart decisions,” said Pasquali.
“You can have a good time, but you can be safe while you’re doing it.”
Baskets of condoms and copies of a new magazine about health and sex, dubbed Freestylin’, will be available at the athletes’ village and other sites around town.
Freestylin’ is a bilingual glossy mag geared towards youth 17 and older.
It gives tips on what’s hot and what’s not, horoscopes, a party playbook and there’s an advice column from a bartender named Snooky, which carries the tagline: “The bartender who serves the advice the same way he serves the drinks … straight up.”
In creating the content, they surveyed magazines geared towards young people, and then decided what messages to slide into the entertaining content.
“We tried to cover off a number of issues that young people are facing — including partying, decisions about having sex, when to have sex, how to have sex and healthy eating,” she said.
Health printed 5,000 of the magazines, so there will be many available to Yukoners after the event.
“We wanted to create something that had relevance to athletes and relevance to Yukoners,” said Paquali.
The sports-side of the campaign focuses on gearing up for athletics.
Health bought ads on local buses that show a Yukon athlete paired with a recreational athlete. Both are playing the same sport and both are wearing protective gear.
“We want to get the message out that’s it’s the same game, whether you’re playing recreationally or competitively, and because it’s the same game you have to wear the same gear,” said Pasquali.
The campaign’s gold-medal finale encourages athletes to make their own two-minute health-promotional videos and post them to YouTube shortly after the Games end.
“We’re going to be looking for clear, creative, effective messages.”
In total, the Play Safe, Play Hard campaigns cost nearly $70,000.