“Cabbages and Condoms” is a restaurant chain based in Bankok and run by an NGO Population and Community Development Association (PDA). Mechai Viravaidya started this NGO more than a quarter of a century ago and he was awarded 2007 Gates Award for Global Health by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. As Rosen says in his book, Michai is a master in creating buzz. Here is a story of how Michai “gave something to talk about” in a lecture on family planning delivered to two thousand teachers in Bankok in 1974 (i.e. 35 years ago!). (source: Anatomy of buzz)
As Michai started talking about various methods of birth control, he noticed that he was getting a lot of blank looks. People looked either self-conscious or bored. This is what Michai did: He pulled out a condom from his pocket and said, “Let’s open it up. A lot of you maybe heard about condom but have never seen it or touched it.” He tore its packaging and started talking about alternative uses of the condom. He said, “It could be used carry water, cover a barrel of a gun, tie your hair. It can also be used as a balloon.” And he started blowing into his new toy. He says, “It was like magic. One minute they were sitting there looking stiff and self-conscious, and the next they were roaring with laughter.”
He asked his staff to distribute sample condoms. Some in the audience had no problem; others were more reluctant. He didn’t let them off the hook. He said, “The condom is really clean if your mind isn’t dirty. If you have a dirty mind, please don’t take one.” Then he invited those with the “cleanest minds” to join him onstage for a condom-blowing contest. Dozens of teachers ended up onstage. Michai said, “On count of three, start blowing your condoms. The one to blow up the largest condom in one minute will win a year’s supply.” Two thousand people were laughing uncontrollably. Imagine what a buzz this event would have generated!