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Rick Santorum Rubbers: Coming Soon to a Bodega Near You?

Benjamin Sherman started marketing Barack Obama condoms on a whim in 2008, in the hopes of making a few quick bucks. Sherman, then a college student, simply ordered 2,500 Obama and 2,500 John McCain and hired his kid brother as an intern to sell them. He didn't really think much about the future of his biz. By October of that year, however, Sherman's venture had grown to 40 employees, and he had been unexpectedly been thrust into the national spotlight.

His company, New York-based Say It With a Condom, now ships internationally and has gotten attention recently as well, when Sherman unveiled Mitt Romney rubbers. Runnin' Scared caught up with 30-year-old Sherman to see what other political prophylactics might hit the market this election season.

Runnin' Scared: So how did you get started with this?

Benjamin Sherman: We started this in 2008, as just a random idea to basically make money. It was nothing more than that four years ago. Fast forward -- we've sold half a million condoms, and we've shipped them to 62 different countries.We're launching a whole new business that's going to feature a larger array of products than the political condoms we're known for.

Runnin' Scared: What prompted the Romney condom?

Sherman: People are really unhappy about Romney being the frontrunner, so we're taking the liberty to make fun of him.

Runnin' Scared: And your new idea?

Sherman: Basically you're going to come to our site, and we're going to have a number of pre-designed templates.What you'll be able to do is go into our design center and type in somebody's name. That's one of the most simple features -- people can create a condom cover from scratch. We thought it'd be fun to make a more intimate gift. People have customized M & M's -- we're doing what Mars did with candy with condoms. I always had this desire to create a site that expanded beyond the political aspects of our condom packaging.

Runnin' Scared: When will this be available? In time for Valentine's Day?

Sherman: Between five to six weeks. Trust me, I pushed so hard to get the site done before Valentine's Day.

Runnin' Scared: What will we be able to expect?

Sherman: There will be another 40 designs -- an entire athletic category. There's a baseball condom that says "no glove, no love." There's a hockey one that says "puck off," and a scuba one that says "I go down." We just enjoy coming up with random thoughts.

Runnin' Scared: What's the hardest part about your work?

Sherman: I guess it's being original. So many things have been said and done before. But people haven't written or promoted their messages on condoms -- that's really an untapped industry.

Runnin' Scared: How did you come up with the Romney slogans?

Sherman: It was tough -- you'll find out that there's NOTHING funny about this man. So we went with "never settle," which is currently being talked about in the G.O.P. field.

Runnin' Scared: How much do your personal politics get involved in condom development?

Sherman: My personal politics is that we have to have somebody lead the country. I'm not going to say whether Barack Obama is a good leader or not. I try to take the moral high-ground. A lot of my friends say, "why don't you attack him for being Mormon?" But, like I said, I attempt to take the moral high-ground and try to be as bipartisan as possible.

Runnin' Scared: Any plans for a Rick Santorum condom?

Sherman: My mother asked me that question the other day. It's currently being debated. It's very possible. One of the things that the new website allows us to do is just to create a product without creating a micro-site. What you'll see now is a much faster turnaround time. The problem with Santorum is that most people have no idea who this person is. But maybe: "Great for when you're coming from behind?"

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.


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