NEW YORK — At an exclusive launch party tonight, LELO unveiled its latest innovation — HEX, a re-engineered condom that will be promoted by actor Charlie Sheen.
Sheen, who first went public about his HIV status in November, took to the stage at the “HEX Appeal” launch party to endorse HEX Condoms.
“It is truly an honor to align myself with this brilliant, progressive company that will singlehandedly alter the perception and appeal, as well as the technology of the condom as we’ve known it from this day forward and beyond,” Sheen said.
Noting the irony of using his persona to promote condoms, Sheen said his children motivate him to promote safe sex.
“What the hell is a guy with five kids and HIV doing selling condoms? It begs the question, ‘shouldn’t this guy be buying condoms instead?’ Trust me I adore and cherish all of my children,” Sheen said. “That said, I don’t adore my HIV. I’ve accepted it as part of my journey in this great big, crazy life that I’ve created and continue to embrace and yes, there are plenty of times in my most private moments that I ask myself ‘what if?’ ‘What if just that one time I would’ve chosen differently?’ Let’s face it as we gather here tonight, condom use is down and STIs are on the rise. It’s a dangerous combination when you’re trying to take care of yourself and your loved ones. We must transcend the stigma as well as the disappointment associated with condom use. We can point to dubious constructions like poor fit and an absence of sensitivity. That all ends right here, right now. This is not your grandfather’s condom.”
According to LELO Trade Marketing Manager Zabrina Law, Sheen’s revelation led to a rise in online searches related to HIV and AIDS.
“What he, or for this matter anybody, didn't expect was the huge surge in awareness surrounding HIV and AIDS following his announcement,” Law told XBIZ. “While there was a steady decline of interest on the topic over the past 10 years — related searches are at 30 percent what they used to be in 2006 — November data shows a peak of +70 percent for HIV, AIDS, and STIs interest. This has even been termed the Charlie Sheen Effect.”
The “HEX Appeal” launch party was held at the Hudson-Mercantile Annex 38 in New York and was attended by LELO execs, including LELO founder Filip Sedic, high-profile celebrities and members of the media.
In his speech, Sedic told the crowd what inspired LELO to launch HEX.
“We realized that we have to take much higher responsibility beyond just thinking about the pleasure,” he said. “Sexual health, attitudes about sexuality and a wider range of matters are issues that we feel we need to talk about.”
According to Sedic, in the seven years that it took to develop HEX, the company explored several elements that could improve condom design. Ultimately, structure came out on top as the key factor, which addresses the issue of condoms slipping or breaking.
At the event, specialists were stationed at HEX Labs demonstrating the unique selling points of HEX. Made of tried-and-true latex, HEX Condoms feature unique strength that prevents them from breaking easily.
“HEX Condoms are revolutionary,” Law said. “They offer characteristics that minimize slippage and breakage, and optimize pleasure. The simple theory that anything light and strong requires structure (similar to that of high-rise buildings or a suspension bridge), we applied to the HEX. Thicker hexagons encase thin membranes giving it the iconic visual on the body. The HEX will be available to end-consumers on Sept. 1.”
LELO will be launching a HEX Condoms’ Indiegogo campaign to spread the word worldwide. According to the company, the launch period will run for two months and ends on Aug. 12.
“We have decided to partner with the design and tech-focused crowd-funding site to raise awareness and reach more people,” Law said. “It's also the perfect environment to change the perception of condoms for good."
The launch of HEX Condoms marks a milestone in condom design as the first to introduce a different structure since the modern condom was introduced more than 70 years ago. Citing a decline in condom use, LELO hopes it will promote safe sex by appealing to more people.
“The condom as we know it was invented in 1920 (the latex condom), and the only major design change came in the ‘50s when the reservoir tip was added,” Law said. “Condoms have stayed the same for over 70 years. Ever since the modern latex condom was invented, little has changed. We've seen the addition of lube, colors and ribs and dots for so-claimed ‘extra pleasure’ but none of these changes have contributed to the condom being structurally different. Only one in four sexual intercourses are protected, despite their 98 percent effectiveness at preventing unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STI's and HIV.
“STIs are on the rise, and condom usage is in decline,” Law said. “This is not a third-world issue, but a full-world issue. And availability is not the problem, appeal is. LELO HEX aims to reposition the condom as something people want to wear, and shake up the condom industry for good.”
LELO says its R&D departments have been working on optimizing HEX’s “unprecedented” condom design since 2009. HEX Condoms have already received all relevant certifications for sale globally.
LELO is hosting another launch event for HEX in London on Thursday, June 16.