'Enjoy your mountin': Utah cancels state-issued condoms over innuendo
Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, has suspended an HIV prevention campaign over condoms that used sexual innuendo to promote their use.
The condoms featured Utah-specific locations and jokes, such as “SL,UT” as a shorthand for Salt Lake City, Utah, and “Uintah sex?” as a reference for a Utah county. Officials had planned to distribute 100,000 condoms as part of an HIV prevention effort.
In a statement to local TV station KUTV, Herbert’s office said he “understands the importance of the Utah department of health conducting a campaign about HIV prevention.
“He does not, however, approve the use of sexual innuendo as part of a taxpayer-funded campaign, and our office has asked the department to rework the campaign’s branding.”
The governor’s office had also taken down a website associated with the campaign.
Condom distribution for those at risk of HIV was stopped after slogans like "UINTAH SEX" were deemed too offensive by @GovHerbert— KUTV 2News (@KUTV2News) January 16, 2020
Do you agree with the decision? Are the slogans funny or offensive?https://t.co/1Vk4mHy1DP
Utah is not the first state to use cheeky condoms to encourage people to use them. Campaigns in Wyoming and Alaska used visual puns to attract attention. Alaska’s campaign had an image of a fishing boat and said “Avoid bycatch”, and an oil rig with the words “drill safely”. Wyoming’s showed the famous Devil’s Tower rock formation and read: “Protect your landmark.”
Health officials are now struggling to put the genie back in the bottle. Even after shutting down the website and ordering health officials to stop handing out the condoms, KUTV reported 42,000 of 130,000 condoms had already been distributed.
“I have not heard yet from our staff what we are actually going to do with them,” Jenny Johnson, a spokesperson for the Utah health department told the Salt Lake Tribune. “We’re still scrambling to get them back.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 40,000 people were diagnosed in 2015 in the US with HIV. Utah ranked 36th among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses in 2015.