Durex: Turn off to turn on

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Durex has unveiled smartphone technology that it says could change Kiwis’ sex lives forever. The off button.

The world’s leading sexual wellbeing brand has released an “honest yet moving” video with couples discussing how technology has affected their relationship. “It’s a timely reminder to us all that it doesn’t take much to improve our sexual relationships – the simple, yet significant gesture of turning off our phones or tablets,” said Ukonwa Ojo, head of global brand equity at Durex.

The video release has already garnered more than three million views and follows an announcement from Durex that the company will diversify into technology with the establishment of Durexlabs and a partnership with Siren Mobile to develop an innovative digital product.

Kiwis have been quick in their response to be involved in this research programme, becoming some of the hundreds of thousands of people visited the Durexlabs website to find out more. Kiwi beta testers have also been sent a link to the video which has gone viral.

The short clip follows beta testers on their emotional journey, highlighting the serious issue that we are becoming enslaved to technology. It has been released alongside a study by Durham University, which reveals that pervasive use of technology in relationships is seriously impacting how often we have sex, even cutting intercourse short and causing tensions in relationships.

Researchers from Durham’s Centre for Sex, Gender & Sexualities revealed that 40% of those interviewed have delayed sex because of technology, largely smart phones and tablets, with others reported hurrying sexual activity in order to respond to messages.

Moreover, a third of the couples interviewed admitted to interrupting sex to answer their phone.  One participant said: “Sometimes I’ll be on Facebook and he’ll be on a sporting app while we are both in bed; we realise that we are literally sitting in bed together, but living in different worlds.”

Dr. Mark McCormack, Co-Director of the Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities at Durham University, said: “Technology has revolutionised our lives and smart phones are now central to the organisation of romantic relationships, from establishing them to maintaining love and affection when couples are apart.”

Ukonwa Ojo said: “With technology playing such a pivotal role in our personal lives and relationships, we set out to explore how it could be utilised in a positive way to enhance our sex lives, but in doing so we discovered the most effective answer was the simplest.  After consulting countless experts, academic research and endless qualitative interviews, the solution turned out to be a simple one – we should disconnect to reconnect.

“We are thrilled with the response to this campaign and the video itself, and hope that it will go some way to re-connecting couples who have let technology come between them.  As we approach Earth Hour, it is a poignant reminder for us to turn off to turn on.”

Susie Lee, the app entrepreneur and CEO of Siren Mobile, continues to play a central role of the project’s implementation.  Lee said: “Of course, tech can never really replace human interaction. True chemistry comes from intimacy. So whilst we need our tech – it has enhanced our lives, enabling us to reconnect with old friends, reach wider social groups and meet new people – we need to recognise the times and places when social networking doesn’t enrich our experience. We really need to learn to focus on each other in the bedroom, rather than on our smartphones or tablets.”

“What this research reveals and the point the video makes is that technology now consumes our relationships at a much deeper level. It’s made its way into the bedroom in more ways than we imagined, often with benefits, but also coming with potentially serious costs to relationships, as it can cause frustration and tension, and encroach on sexual activity.”

The research, conducted by Durex in association with Durham University, can be found here: http://dro.dur.ac.uk/14770/

Durex NZ’s social media agency is Contagion Freemans Bay. PR is handled by PPR Westhaven.

The qualitiative interviews

  • “When the first iphone was purchased by him I used to call it the third person in our marriage and I hated her with a passion, she used to sit between us, and I really disliked her … it has become a third arm for a lot of people”
  • “Sometimes I’ll be on Facebook and he’ll be on a sporting app while we are both in bed; we realise that we are literally sitting in bed together, but living in different worlds.”
  • “I may want sex and he might not be aware of that, because he’s distracted on his phone.”
  • “In the last few months, I’ve tried to have a ban on her using her phone in the bedroom … We’re now trying to use the bedroom for just sleeping and sex.”
  • “She loves her technology I’m not going to lie, she loves her phone. Sometimes it does feel like it’s a relationship with her and her phone, she loves her phone and she’s never really away from it”
  • “I’ve not delayed sex, I’ve faked an orgasm to speed it up to get back to work.” 40% have delayed sex because of smartphones, tablets and laptops.

A third of the participants answered their phone during sex.

About the research

In-depth interviews were undertaken in February 2015 with 30 people from across England. Participants were aged 18-55, and were required to have been in a relationship for at least one year. All participants were heterosexual, and there were a diverse make up in terms of class, ethnicity, age and educational background. Ethical approval was gained from Durham University, and the full report can be found at Durham Research Online.

About Dr Mark McCormack

Dr Mark McCormack is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Durham University and Co-Director of the Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities, in the School of Applied Social Sciences. He moved to Durham after spending two years as a Lecturer at Brunel University, having completed his Ph.D at the University of Bath in 2010. His research has garnered considerable media attention, and he has appeared on shows including The Surgery on BBC Radio 1, Woman’s Hour and Thinking Allowed on BBC Radio 4, Nightwaves on BBC Radio 3, The World Service, and Q with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio 1. His research has been covered in newspapers including The Observer, The Sunday Times and The Daily Mail, as well as in multiple print and on-line magazines, including The Economist, New Internationalist and The Huffington Post.

About Durex

Durex® is the #1 sexual wellbeing brand worldwide. The brand not only produces condoms which exceeds global testing standards, but also offers pleasure gels, lubricants and personal massagers. With over 80 years of experience in the bedroom, Durex is dedicated to inspiring lovers to love sex safely. More information at www.Durex.com.

About Reckitt Benckiser 

Reckitt Benckiser is a world-leading consumer health and hygiene company. The company has operations in over 60 countries and sales in almost 200 countries. The company employs approximately 37,000 people worldwide.

Reckitt Benckiser is in the top 20 of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Its health, hygiene and home portfolio is led by global brands : of  Nurofen, Strepsils Gaviscon, Mucinex, Durex, Scholl, Clearasil, Lysol, Dettol, Veet, Harpic, Bang, Mortein, Finish, Vanish, Calgon, Air Wick, Woolite and French’s.  At the start of 2014 RB had 43% of its core revenues coming from its 2 emerging market Areas and 57% from its developed market Area; 72% of core revenues came from the health and hygiene categories of the portfolio.

Reckitt Benckiser has a focus on sustainability where the company is targeting a 1/3 reduction in water impact, 1/3 reduction in carbon and to have 1/3 of its net revenue coming from more sustainable products by 2020. It is also the Save the Children charity’s largest FMCG global partner, with a new partnership vision to radically reduce the world’s second biggest killer of under-fives, diarrhoea.  Overall Reckitt Benckiser wants to reach 200 million people to improve their health and hygiene behaviour.


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