BUSINESS

Condoms Seized At Border As 'Medical Devices,' Halifax Brewery Says

03/23/2016 02:12 EDT | Updated 03/24/2017 05:12 EDT
HALIFAX — The guys at Halifax's Good Robot Brewing Co. thought they had a great marketing idea: give out condoms featuring their company's misfit-robot logo, along the lines of the company's similar matchbooks and rolling papers. So they called up a U.S. supplier and ordered 100 for about $200. This week, though, they discovered to their amusement that you need a licence to import condoms. Reporter Alison Auld spoke to Good Robot co-founder Joshua Counsil on Wednesday:

good robot brewing company joshua counsil

Good Robot Brewing Co. co-founder Joshua Counsil. (Canadian Press photo)

CP: How did you go about trying to find a supplier?

COUNSIL: We do a lot of drinking here, so most of the really funny or good stuff comes out of those sessions. We actually have a document called Market Ideas and Drunk Thoughts.

You go to a lot of shady bars and for some reason they have condom dispensary machines, but you never see any kind of bars you actually want to hang out at that have them. And it makes this really kind of taboo thing for some reason when really it's pretty positive.

CP: Where did you get the idea for this?

COUNSIL: We had a Valentine's event here called Sex Machine with sex toy bingo and sex therapist talks, and even though it was sort of a laugh one of the themes was practising safe sex. So we tried to get the condoms in time for that.

Unfortunately, we got this notification this week from Health Canada which mentioned two regulations that we were apparently violating. It had something to do with importing a medical device and distributing a medical device without a licence to do so.

I didn't know condoms were considered a medical device, considering you can get them over the counter anywhere.

CP: What did you think of that?

COUNSIL: This was just supposed to be a light-hearted joke to make our followers laugh, and it bit us in the ass.

CP: It is a bit of a different approach to marketing.

COUNSIL: There's so much that happens here in the run of a day that we never fully think through all our ideas, which is part of the reason we get in trouble quite a bit. But to me, it's just a natural fit — there is a culture with the drinking lifestyle.

We know people are going to fool around, so they might as well stay safe.


CP: What do you think of having the little robot on the wrapper?

COUNSIL: Normally condom wrappers are so greasy with the images. It's usually a fox that's part hybrid woman, part fox and it's got red lips and it's wearing jorts and kind of glasses and giving you this strange wink and you're like, 'Why are they making this so strange and creepy?'

Whereas the cute little robot is like, 'Hey, I'm looking out for you.' It kinda takes the edge off a bit.

CP: What are people saying to you and on social media?

COUNSIL: I think most of them are just laughing. There are a lot of condom puns dancing around online right now.

Some of them are quite indignant, which I didn't expect. We laughed all day about it. We just thought it was so funny, that we just can't seem to get our marketing right.

* This interview has been edited for length and clarity.