Condommm... Fun products of a serious nature

Condommm… Fun products of a serious nature

Safe Hands™ – formerly Yorkshire Trading Ltd.


Sat besides condom vending ‘guru’ Michael Booth, (The Safe Hands Group), his face was a picture, huge grin, eyes glued to the screen (looked like flying saucers), his response as each condom related slide changed was unforgettable, impulsive and instantaneous… “Love it… (Pause). Fu*king brilliant… (Pause). You have got the job.”

Double the impact, doubled the profits

Safe Hands Group Ltd. A fun job and a sound investment in a new up-market image where effective design is often measured against a healthy increase in sales.

Bulletpoint Design: New trading name of ‘Safe Hands’ for a condom vending company. Logo, branding, vending machine designs, condom packaging and instructions (1998).

“Fun products of a serious nature. You are in safe hands, but don’t forget to read the instructions!”

Fun element? Also an ‘emergency’ buy!

The brief: “Sex is about having fun and being safe at the same time… Our condoms are huge sellers and are only available from vending machines – often purchased as an ‘emergency’ buy! Durex has a professional (hygienic) looking image yet seem to have lost the fun element for me. By comparison, our current range is too ‘jokey’ and needs looking at – especially as there is now new legal compliance stuff to add to the packaging. After some good advice and grant assistance from Business Link, we would like a new name and logo. We need a more up-market image, digital artwork and your print management services.” Michael Booth – Yorkshire Trading Ltd. (1998).

The trigger for change – a spark of creativity

A chance off the cuff remark from Michael in a meeting – “you are in safe hands” – provided the perfect name for the new brand. Interestingly the client who was a real entrepreneur in every sense, inventing Mates™ luminous condoms from experimenting with rubber mixtures in the oven at home, was later to become a successful business he sold to the Arabs. In 1998 Michael’s ‘thing’ was condom vending, yet he also ran a rubber gloves company on the side! Looking back, this ‘creative spark’ may have triggered the idea behind the new name and logo?

In safe hands

‘There are good clients and there are great clients.’ And Michael soon became the latter. A funny, colourful character, he trusted our judgment and was a pleasure to work with. Even doing the digital artwork was fun to do! (Condom boxes below.) As you can imagine, Bulletpoint also ended up with dozens of free condom samples! Years later and out-of-date they are still in a big black box on a shelf of Bulletpoint’s design studio (2010).


• Design and digital artwork for new condom packaging range.

“Sex is important but so is knitting.” Mary Whitehouse.

When doing some research on ‘sex’ and ‘sex appeal’ etc we also found some great quotes, which we put to good use. As the job progressed through production, Paul asked Michael if he could borrow four (standard all white) vending machine covers. “What do you want them for Paul?” “Just let me have them Michael and trust me.” Over a decade later two of these ‘mock ups’ sit proudly on the wall of our superhero themed offices in Little Germany, Bradford. The other two were dropped into the client as a nice surprise. See below.


What Paul had spotted here was another opportunity to do something different. Bulletpoint organised spraying up the machines, one blue, and the other black, adding vinyl stickers (Mary Whitehouse and Sophia Loren quotes were placed down the sides), and then filling the front of the machine up with huge graphics. One design, a ‘fruity’ illustration by Myles Talbot and called ‘Condommm’, you could almost lick it was that good! The other ‘ribbed’, a simple photograph of a car shock absorber sprayed blue. (In 1998 we had no decent 3D software programs for Apple Macs in them days!) This approach compared to the industry standard of a tiny sticker stuck in the middle of just about every white vending machine in the country.

An image makeover and a fresh way of thinking about sales helped towards doubling the impact, and in a short space of time, also helped double the profits.

Sex sells. But what is sex appeal?

“Sex appeal is 50% of what you’ve got and 50% of what people think you’ve got.” Sophia Loren.

• New logo and full-scale pre-production mock-ups for condom vending machines.Bulletblog65 • Condom instructions. Using a close-up (cropped in) Safe Hands logo on the cover. :)

“Good (effective) design should make your socks go up and down.” Jonathan Sands – Design Yorkshire (1998) and chairman, Elmwood UK.

Fun products of a serious nature

I hope you spotted Paul’s tongue in cheek idea behind the front cover of the instruction booklet ? If you are struggling to see it, think Safe Hands logo, think man’s private parts in a state of arousal. Larger, larger, larger! :)

Poppumon for a bit of bhaji

Looking back, and as crude as they may seem this old range (below) was selling, so the job also proved to be challenging in every respect. I also remember us laughing our socks off with two samples from Michael’s range of condoms. McCondom, finest Scotch Whisky flavour and (it still makes me smile even now) ‘Spicey Curry Flavoured’ – ‘poppumon for a bit of bhaji.’ :) Bulletblog148 • Previous ‘jokey’ range used on vending machine stickers and packaging.

In a funny kind of way, and compared to the new designs shown above, Paul still likes the humour and nostalgia here. It was only right to feature ‘before and after’ and share them as part of the story, one of Paul’s all-time favourite design case studies.

Lager lager lager

Paul also remembers the slide show of ideas Bulletpoint put together for Michael to help win the pitch. (Bulletpoint Design was one of three approved suppliers recommended by Business Link, Bradford & District.) The slide show of creative concepts – many ideas which changed little through production – was accompanied by the sound track and lyrics from Trainspotting; Underworld, ‘Born Slippy’ shouting; “lager lager lager lager!”

Born slippy

Sat besides condom vending ‘guru’ Michael Booth, his face was a picture, huge grin, eyes glued to the screen (looked like flying saucers), his response as each condom related slide changed was unforgettable, impulsive and instantaneous. (He was also tapping his foot to the music with a nodding head of approval.) “Love it… (Pause). Fu*king brilliant… (Pause). You have got the job.”

The strange thing was Bulletpoint were the second company he had seen and Michael had not yet visited the third company involved in the pitch?

So I guess you could say we had ‘scored’, was on the money and (exceeding expectations) had also made a good impression. At this point the job seemed in the bag and the day after, to celebrate, we all went out for lunch; Creative director Paul Kerfoot (moi), ‘marketing and stuff’ guru Richard Hall (AKA ‘book of all knowledge’) and Andrew Lodge (designer), now with The Brass Agency (AKA Brahms, Leeds), all had a FUN and memorable time working on the job.

Celebration lunch venue: 12 noon. Calico Jack’s, (a dark, moody cellar bar with a strange pirate themed concept), Little Germany, Bradford, West Yorkshire. Accompanied by: Three pints of lager, lager, lager.

BusinessLink1• A project delivered on behalf of and part-funded by Business Link (1998).

Please click here to download an A4 design case study sheet (Adobe Acrobat PDF file).

Sex appeal? Click here to see Sophia Loren undresses for her doctor, played by Peter Sellers. From the movie ‘The Millionairess’. :)

If you are interested in booking Paul for a design and branding workshop/seminar – to include this and other design case studies – or to discuss your needs on your next creative speaking engagement please call: 08701 221 220 or 01274 740003. Or email:

Alternatively, to see more of Paul’s creative side and some Bulletman ‘out of the box’ thinking, please visit: