Social marketing has been extensively applied in developing countries to promote condom use. The same model is inappropriate to condom promotion in rich countries where condoms are easily available as a regular commercial product. However, the product has a low market size, despite its notoriety, and the free market does not a priori ensure that only high quality condoms will be on sale. In Switzerland, commercial companies submitting products to an NGO (Verein Gütesiegel) conducting independent testing acquire a collective product quality label, and this label has been used in HIV prevention campaigns conducted by the federal authorities. This public-private-partnership has functioned in an efficient manner since the end of the 1980s. A multidisciplinary approach is adopted for this case study, which is examined from three main perspectives. (1) In terms of political science, the nature of the relationship between the state and the private actors is examined. How were responsibilities shared out? How have the interests of all parties been met and maintained by this system? Is the set-up sustainable in the current and, as far as can be predicted, the future context of the AIDS epidemic? (2) In terms of marketing, to what extent has the system ensured quality of Product, Place (physical distribution), Price and Promotion?Which aspects have been included in the partnership and which left to the commercial sector? What have been the strengths and weaknesses of condom marketing in Switzerland? (3) In terms of condom quality assurance, what have been the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure to encourage the distribution of quality condoms put in place through the Verein Gütesiegel? What has been the impact of the Swiss norm?
Leading on from this analysis of the development of the current system, the study seeks to establish possible scenarios concerning the future.Which elements in the current system favour/disfavour sustainability? What is the stability of the public-private cooperation established, and what possible developments may be predicted? Finally, with regard to the valorisation and diffusion of results, what lessons may be learned from this case study for HIV prevention, for the application of social marketing to public health, and more generally, in terms of health promotion methodology, what may be drawn from this experience of intersectoral collaboration which may be transferred to other domains?
Data, in the form of documentation and semi-structured interviews, are to be collected from the key players identified in the field. These include:the Verein Gütesiegel (Association for Swiss condom quality marking), the Federal Office of Public Health, AIDS NGOs, the Stop AIDS Campaign, Swissmedic, Consumer organisations, and key players within the system of commercial distribution (companies marketing condoms in Switzerland, pharmaceutical wholesalers, representatives of the different types of sales points). The chief options in operation for the promotion of condoms and the control of condom quality will also be examined for four other European countries.