The full dish on the “Always Use Protection” poster

Always Use Protection PosterIt’s fascinating how much of a treasure trove of interesting historical tidbits the silverorange intranet is. After all, that’s where the birth of the “Always Use Protection” poster occurred. And since there has been a lot of mystery surrounding the project, I thought I’d set some facts straight.

The tagline “Always Use Protection” apparently came from a discussion that Blake had with Asa around the time of the initial college campaign. The original artwork concept came from Steven Garrity and was posted on the Mozilla design intranet at the end of last August. Steven’s original concept sketch looks strikingly similar to the final version. What you don’t know is that the original concept called for the “condom” to actually be a Firefox CD and not a condom, since the idea was to imitate a popular Canadian advertising campaign. The companion poster was to be even more risqué: “Natural mail enhancement. Get Thunderbird.

When Bart introduced the project, it was very clear who we were targeting: “The task: a fun, tongue in cheek poster aimed at the college crowd.” And in fact, this was to be part of the larger College Reps campaign that never seemed to get off the ground (though props to steeler_fan and lumiere for reviving the project.)

Though I was the first person to volunteer to design the poster, I didn’t execute the final. Rather, credit belongs to Charlie Miller who stepped up immediately after I did and was key to driving the project forward. Acting as project lead… it was this early version that effectively turned into the final. And I would be remiss to not mention Mando Gomez, who generously volunteered his photographic eye.

And so three weeks after the project began, Charlie finished the poster and released it to the design team.

A day later the project was effectively canned owing to concerns about releasing the poster so close to the 1.0 launch and the potential for offending members of the community.

While the idea was floated to release it to the grassroots unofficially, nothing came of it and so for months the poster remained unseen, languishing on my harddrive.

It wasn’t until people starting asking for a higher resolution version after Asa posted about the project on his blog that I decided to release the source. Of course, Asa would never have blogged about the poster if Mando hadn’t decided to release his own desktop spin on the concept a week prior… suggesting that you simply can’t keep a good idea down!

And not long after I decided to release the larger version to the Spread Firefox community, C|Net picked up the story with a shot of the full version of the poster; soon after, WebProNews re-reported on the story, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The poster has already been translated to Czech and is spreading across the web, just as we’d hoped…

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

10 thoughts on “The full dish on the “Always Use Protection” poster”

  1. Can’t keep a good advert down. No matter how much MoFo tries to prevent their product from becoming popular, their userbase does it anyway. Killing off college reps, scaring away their best and brightest web-guys, and telling people (such as myself) that the wiki is a “bad thing” and will never become “popular”. So I advertise it myself, and so do a few others.

    Now, people actually suggest to others to visit it, whom I’ve never seen edit and never talked to. We’re winning. Join us.

  2. is this under a Creative Commons license or something? Can it be used in a magazine?

  3. Hmm. We never discussed licensing. I’m sure we paid for the photo (at least Charlie arranged for that)… Otherwise, you might consider talking to Mozilla Licensing about using the actual brand. You can pretty much do what you like with it for personal use. Yay obscure licensing!

  4. How can I translate this poster easily ?

    Anyway, do you mind if I try to print it ? If I can, I will bring it at the Fosdem.

  5. Every time I come across this poster it makes me smile. I was informed that my tag line had been chosen and then never heard another thing. I’m so glad the grassroots community took it up, thanks for “the full dish.”

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