August 4, 2003
Posters for Paris' 1,300 municipal kiosks wittily remind residents and tourists to celebrate the city's romantic neighborhoods safely. St. Michel in the Latin Quarter, famous for its fast food, is depicted as a condom-shaped spinning gyro. La place de la Bastille, a hip area, is represented in a poster with its famous column as a golden condom with a tattoo and a piercing ring. The poster for Montmartre, home to the Moulin Rouge, shows a bright red windmill spinning around a condom.
"Paris is the city of pleasure, fashion and light; it shouldn't be the capital of AIDS," said Olivier Henry, an advertising agency executive. "But it is." Henry and his partner, Caroline Nammour, at the agency Lowe Alice, conceived the idea for the 13 posters, illustrated by Jean-Louis Cornalba. According to the office of Mayor Bertrand Delano, Paris has two AIDS-related deaths a day. Of the 120,000 HIV patients in France, half live in Paris.
In addition to the posters, the mayor's campaign, titled "Paris Plasirs, Paris Capotes" ("Paris Pleasures, Paris Rubbers") includes distribution of 500,000 free condoms. This summer, the government plans to pass out 100,000 postcards of the poster designs.
Philippe Lasnier, spokesperson for the mayor, said the posters "are not very risqué -- for the French -- but do have a certain visual shock." He added that the mayor's sexual orientation was irrelevant to the project, adding, "That Mayor Delano is homosexual doesn't change anything. He's known many people, homosexual and heterosexual, over the years affected by this disease."
The poster for Le Marais, a quarter popular with gays, shows condoms arranged into a rainbow flag. The most blatantly phallic image represents Ile St. Louis, where Berthillon makes famous ice cream. The poster shows an ice cream cone condom topped with two scoops.
For a look at the campaign (in French) click here.