LOS ANGELES The words "Suit Up" - familiar to fans of a popular TV comedy show - were chosen on Thursday to emblazon the wrappers of a million condoms in a Los Angeles area public health contest.
The winning condom wrapper design was chosen by vote in an online contest organized by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, aimed at reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, in the Los Angeles area.
The department borrowed the idea for the contest from a similar campaign in New York, said True Beck, the program's manager at the department.
In the CBS television show "How I Met Your Mother," actor Neil Patrick Harris plays a womanizing, sharply dressed New York executive who uses the catch phrase "Suit up."
The winning designer, Adam Lyons, 32, said the idea was not meant as any direct reference to the show. Instead, it was more about Los Angeles.
"I would say that Los Angeles is classy and sophisticated and refined, hence the bow tie," said Lyons, who runs a one-person West Hollywood-based creative studio called Pop The Pixel.
Organizers hope the contest will persuade more people to use condoms and reduce the spread of STDs. The Los Angeles metropolitan area ranks second only to New York in the prevalence of HIV, Beck said.
Beck said the department, in conjunction with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is paying to produce 1,000,001 condoms with Lyons' winning design on the wrapper. The prophylactics will be handed out for free in areas of Los Angeles County with high rates of STDs, including the sometimes seedy Sunset Boulevard corridor.
More than 185,000 online votes were cast to select the winner from a group of 50 top designs, which in turn had been picked by panel of judges. Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton was on the panel.
The "Suit Up" condoms will begin to be distributed in six to eight months, as the package first must receive routine approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Beck added.
(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Andre Grenon)