For years, the PPGNW had marked National Condom Week by distributing thousands of free condoms to area college students. But in 2012, according to Engebretson, the organization wanted to do more to promote safe sex. They hit upon the idea of distributing condoms with QR codes that took people to a new website, www.wheredidyouwearit.com. There, they could "check in" to show where they had engaged in safe sex.
"We were working on a health strategy aimed at someone who may have a condom in their pocket but might choose not to use it or be pressured not to use it," Engebretson says. "We wanted to create social maps to show people how common condom use is. We wanted to get people to check in for safe sex and have some pride of ownership, but also keep their anonymity. We wanted to encourage people to feel good about using condoms without invading their privacy. And we wanted to show them that lots of other people use condoms."
The folks at PPGNW wanted the QR codes to appear on the wrapper of each individual condom, rather than on a larger package. They printed the codes on circular stickers and threw a condom sticker party. About 20 volunteers – many of them older people who hadn't seen condoms in years – applied stickers to individual condom wrappers and had fun in the process, Engebretson says.
The code is mostly a gimmick to grab attention, Engebretson admits. But the gimmick worked: By late June 2012, PPGNW had logged 180,000 unique visitors on the site. There were more than 13,000 check-ins, and the QR code had been scanned nearly 4,000 times. Visitors to the site came from all 50 states and six continents.
But what about privacy in those intimate moments? Keep reading.