Is that a QR code in your pocket, or do you just want to tell the world where you last had sex?
Turns out the answer could be "both."
The scannable codes have been popping up on (of all things) condom wrappers--to enable users to post the location of their sexual activity online.
No, it's not a check-in app for orgy-goers (VCs take note--that opportunity may still be available). It's part of an effort by the Seattle-area chapter of Planned Parenthood to hook up with members of the social-media generation.
Taking a cue from check-in sites like Foursquare, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest has been handing out the specially stickered rubbers to college students. The students are encouraged to scan the codes after sex to go to a Web site where they can anonymously post the approximate whereabouts of their recent safe-sex tryst to an online map.
In the process, the posters are supposedly helping spread the word about safe sex and family planning, and, in the words of Planned Parenthood, letting it be known that they're "proud to wear protection." They're also gaining access to online educational resources.
The QR-coded wrappers are just part of a larger campaign called "Where Did You Wear It?" The Web site WhereDidYouWearIt.com features a world map showing the rough location of the safe-sex acts of people who've posted. Users go to the check-in page and enter an approximate address.
Then they use several dropdown menus ("I Use Condoms,..." "The Safe Sex Was,..." and so on) to choose various answers and create a message that appears when someone clicks a location dot on the map. A completed message might, for example, read something like this actual declaration:
A twenty-something guy and a guy, whose relationship is all about love and have already talked about safer sex and STDs, used a condom in a plane, train, or automobile because no one wants an STD. It was ah-mazing-ing--rainbows exploded and mountains trembled.
Sexy social-media types can also use a button to tweet news of their
conquest Web site post. The tweet includes a link to their special dot on the map, and reads like this (sans link): "R U proud 2 wear protection? See my safer sex shout out. [link here] #SafeSexHappens via @WhereDidUWearIt"
And they can hit a button to post to their Facebook page (they get a page with the map link and a comment box--they can confirm or cancel the post).
Nathan Engebretson, new-media coordinator for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, told Crave during a phone interview that despite Planned Parenthood's desire to tap in to Generation C's comfort with sharing, privacy was--not surprisingly--a big concern.
"That was something we really thought of," Engerbretson said. "How can we allow someone to share this experience and at the same time keep it anonymous? So there's nothing that would identify a person. If a person puts in their actual home address, the dot that's generated is randomized plus or minus three or four city blocks, so it doesn't put a dot exactly at their house.
"And the information is not saved anywhere on the site. And we intentionally made it so you couldn't zoom in superclose. You could look at neighborhoods, but not at houses or streets. We really wanted to give people an option so they could see their check-in reflected on the map but at the same time give them some privacy."
Engerbretson said that so far, he and his colleagues are pleased with the campaign, and are already strategizing about how they can build on it.
"After we collect enough data, we hope to do a campaign that reports back what people are anonymously sharing," he said. "For example, '79 percent of twentysomethings talked with their partner about safer sex and getting tested. Are you?' or '82 percent of people using a condom in the great outdoors reported that it was ah-mazing. Isn't it time you added condoms to your camping-trip packing list?' Just some ideas, but we're looking forward to finding these types of statistical fun facts."
He also said the QR code aspect could expand, and several other Planned Parenthood affiliates have already expressed interest in distributing condoms with Where Did You Wear It? stickers containing a URL to the project Web site.
QR codes or not, word of the site seems to be getting around. A little more than a week ago, the campaign tweeted excitedly about its first international check-in--"Way to stay protected Cape Town"--and a smattering of dots have appeared across Europe.
Silicon Valley is woefully underrepresented on the map though, so here's a note to all you overachieving code-trepreneurs: Take a break from your startup already, and consider starting someone up.