Condoman says: use condoms
Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health and Aboriginal Health Workers of Australia (Queensland),
One of the most successful Australian AIDS awareness campaigns, in terms of acceptance, memory retention and educative subtlety, must surely be Condoman, the lycra-clad comic-book creation urging Australians: ‘Don’t be shame, be game – wear condoms’ (or ‘Use frenchies; is a version of the poster directed at Aboriginal communities; and ‘Protect yourself’, which more discreetly targeted school children).
Condoman was created at a Commonwealth-funded workshop for Aboriginal health workers held in Townsville, Queensland in May 1987. This workshop came up with the idea for a superhero, dressed in the red, black and yellow colours of the Aboriginal flag, who would appeal particularly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as he spread safe sex information. Since 1987 the popularity of Condoman has spread across Australia, and the condom-clutching hero has become something of a youth cult image, a concept encouraged by the National AIDS Campaign’s ‘marketing’ of his imagery across t-shirts, crack-and-peel stickers, cloth badges for baseball jackets and backpacks, pencils, fridge magnets and Frisbees.
Recognising the broad youth appeal of their superhero, the National AIDS Campaign brought the character ‘to life’ in the form of a brightly clad actor who travelled across Australia promoting the Commonwealth’s safe sex message. The ‘living’ Condoman received his own stand at Sydney’s Easter Show in 1991; this was intended to appeal to children, with a range of child-friendly products available for free distribution, filing an attractive Condoman show bag. Such is the subtlety of the Condoman campaign, that this dissemination of vital AIDS education, even to the youngest Australian target audience, has been achieved without any controversy or opposition.