Today, The Nation, Reuters, and others across the globe, from South Africa to Scotland, are carrying quizzical stories about a Thai regulatory decision to ban an “ambiguous, boastful and provocative” condom brand. The brand is named after a popular singer who uses the stage name “Tom Dundee”. An unusual mix of sex and bureaucracy, this story is rapidly gathering international media steam.

On Tuesday it was reported in the Thai press.

By Wednesday it had hit the wires.

By tomorrow…this might be really big news.

To update the New Mandala readership, according to Reuters:

Thai cultural watchdogs have banned a line of condoms whose name translates as “Good Penetration”, saying the suggestive label could draw youngsters into having sex earlier, newspapers reported on Tuesday.

The condoms are actually named “Tom Dundee” after the stage name of a popular country singer, but Culture Ministry officials said this was inappropriate and offended good norms and culture, the Thai Rath tabloid said.

“Dundee” in Thai means “Good Penetration”.

“Although the name is not vulgar or rude, it is ambiguous, boastful and provocative,” said Ladda Tangsupachai of the Cultural Watch Centre.

“It could entice excessive consumption and lure children and youths with little maturity to start having sexual activities before their appropriate age,” she added.

Dundee, whose real name is Puntiva Poomiprates, defended lending his stage name to the condom brand.

He said he was merely following a government policy to promote safe sex in a country where over 500,000 people have HIV or AIDS, and indicators point to climbing infection rates among the young.

That the Ministry of Culture has weighed in demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of both successful marketing strategies and, more gravely, the AIDS epidemic that confronts Southeast Asia. How about this for a thought: an “ambiguous, boastful and provocative” condom brand may just encourage more young people to have safer sex. That a popular singer is keen to lend his name, and its “provocative” connotation, to the anti-AIDS fight is surely to be encouraged.

How can the guardians be so serious about protecting “Thai culture” from pollutants, and yet so seriously lack imagination when protecting Thai youth from HIV/AIDS?

Avert, a global AIDS charity, notes, in an informative article, that recently, “There are…signs that unsafe sexual behaviour is increasing among young people in Thailand”. At a time when people are still having sex, and youth HIV infections in Southeast Asia are on the increase, can any new condom brand be a bad thing? I would wager that if they ever see the Thai market, “Dundee Brand Condoms”, will create at least a little bit of excitement.

Isn’t that the whole point of the exercise? ┬К