Thursday, April 1, 2010

Practice Safe...Breath?

Perhaps you’ve seen the newest Dentyne Ice commercial encouraging people to “practice safe breath” by using Dentyne Ice gum. In it are several scenes that parody someone needing a condom – a girl asking a guy if he “has something” with him before they get too comfortable in the backseat of the car, a young man very self-consciously making a purchase at a pharmacy, and one roommate interrupting another’s sleep to ask if he can “help him out.” Each scene ends with a pack of Dentyne Ice gum being pulled out of a pocket, passed over a counter, or grabbed from a nightstand – intended to show the best way to “practice safe breath” and be prepared when “you don’t know how close you’re going to get.”

The success of this new ad campaign is dependent on two things – one) that people can relate to the awkwardness of buying “protection” and two) that everyone knows how important it is to have “protection” handy. Given that, we could not have created a better ad campaign ourselves for teen pregnancy prevention!

So why not use this commercial as a springboard to conversation with young people in your life? Here are some key points to take away. First of all, be real with young people. It’s okay to tell them that purchasing condoms or contraception may not always be a comfortable or pleasant experience. The good news is that our recent Secret Shopper campaign showed that the vast majority of the time, anxiety about making the purchase is worse than making the actual purchase. Also, let young people know there are many places where they can pick up condoms for free. Check with your local health department, clinics, and HIV/AIDS prevention organizations for resources. Many towns even have barber shops and nail salons that make condoms available at no cost!

You can also be an advocate locally for teen-friendly contraceptive access points. Ask your local pharmacy to remove condoms from behind the counter or a locked case so they’re easier to find and less embarrassing to purchase. Ask your salon, gym, or other community agency if they could make condoms available for young people. Find out if your schools provide information to young people on contraception as required by state law.

And while you’re making sure young people have access to contraception, go ahead and buy them some Dentyne Ice – because practicing safe breath isn’t a bad idea either!

by: Dana Becker, M.Ed., Technical Assistance Specialist
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