Condom contest winner takes a bow

June 28, 2012 

Los Angeles County has an official flag, an official seal, an official web site and even an official song (“Seventy-Six Cities”). On Wednesday, it got an official condom.

Officials from the county’s Public Health Department announced the winner of its “Show Us Your Package” contest, which drew more than 500 entries and was aimed at raising awareness about the importance of condom use. The winner: a white, black and red wrapper with a black bow tie and the admonition “Suit Up.” Nine runners up also were selected, depicting, among other things, a cartoon map of L.A., a Hollywood Boulevard star with the word “SAFE” on it and the Hollywood sign spelling out the word “CONDOM.”

The Top 10 entries came from Santa Clarita, Glendale, Panorama City, West Hollywood, Van Nuys and other parts of the county. The grand prize winner, Adam Lyons, 32, of Hollywood, is the proprietor of Pop the Pixel, a West Hollywood design studio.

“I feel fantastic,” said Lyons, who moved to Los Angeles five years ago from San Francisco and said he entered the contest after seeing an ad on Facebook. “This is honestly the first design award for me, so it’s really exciting.” Three of his designs made it into the semi-finals.

Lyons explained that many of his clients are small local businesses with a strong sense of public spiritedness about Los Angeles, and he felt that participating in a public service campaign would let him share that enthusiasm.

“Being part of the community is something I really want to uphold and maintain,” he said. “I’m incredibly happy to be part of L.A.”

Prizes for the top 10 winners were donated to the contest. Adams will receive $750 in gift cards and a Toshiba 19” LED television with a built-in DVD. The runners-up each get $200 in gift cards. But all will receive invaluable exposure for their public-spirited artwork when the winning wrappers hit the streets in a few months. (Because each new condom wrapper requires FDA approval, there will be some lag time, says True Beck, project manager for the contest.)

All of the top 10 will appear for the next year on the wrappers of a million free condoms that will be handed out throughout the county by the Department of Public Health.

The design contest had a lively tone—its web site was LASexSymbol.com—but sexually transmitted disease is a serious issue here. Some 2,000 new HIV infections occur each year in Los Angeles County, and last year the department reported more than 47,500 new cases of chlamydia, more than 9,500 new cases of gonorrhea and nearly 1,800 new cases of syphilis.

The county distributes grant money each year to local health care providers to purchase and distribute free condoms, which help prevent such diseases. The contest—facilitated by a marketing firm and Boston-based ONE Condoms, which is the county’s wholesaler—was a small part of a larger centralization of STD prevention, in which three county programs already have been merged.

The contest rules stipulated that designs could not be obscene and that designers had to be residents of Los Angeles County. However, entries came from as far away as New York and Florida, as well as from surrounding counties. Last week, a panel of judges including gossip blogger Perez Hilton winnowed the submissions down to 50 semifinalists, which were then voted on by 185,000 members of the public on the contest web site.

Posted 6/28/12

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