Evolving a Winning Campaign

ACON

 Evolving a Winning Campaign
 Evolving a Winning Campaign

A healthy safe-sex culture

One of ACON’s main strategies is to promote a healthy safe-sex culture. For more than 30 years, they have supported gay men to have happy and healthy sex lives.

With our latest campaign for the organisation, we set about tackling the rise in STI rates by creating a film, narrated by the inimitable John Bell, to paint a picture of an imagined ideal scenario.

“Everyone is busy having sex with everyone, but they’re doing the right thing, too,” says Ant Donovan, Group Creative Director, Frost*collective. 

“We thought if we used a theatrical approach to show what life looks like when people are having a lot of safe sex, we’d also show what’s possible in an inspiring light. It’s about finding a way to motivate people to change behaviours. John does it so well,” he continues.

ENLISTING JOHN BELL; A THEATRICAL APPROACH

Working with the highly influential Australian actor John Bell and his daughter, playwright Hilary Bell, the film gives the impression of a Sliding Doors scenario. It illustrates that ultimately your behaviour is going to come back to you, whether it is good or bad, in the long run.

“With John Bell, we wanted to make it theatrical and fun. We wanted to portray as many people as we could having sex, but in the context of bettering their lives. The idea for the narration was to come from an observational viewpoint of the community and their behaviour in a positive and lighthearted way, while using John’s voice to communicate wisdom and a voice that would be listened to and respected, without being at all authoritarian,” says Donovan.
 Evolving a Winning Campaign
 Evolving a Winning Campaign

STIs on the rise

But why do STIs matter? They’re not life-threatening. And what about HIV?

For over four years, and six campaigns, we have been working with ACON to create award-winning campaigns promoting safe sex practices with the goal of ending new HIV transmissions by 2020.

As the range of options increases for HIV prevention, like Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and new evidence supporting viral suppression benefits for prevention, gay men now have a variety of options to prevent HIV. The downside is, these prevention benefits offer little protection of other STIs.

“A key challenge for this campaign was finding a way to promote awareness of sexually transmitted infections among gay men without scaremongering or being sex-negative. It’s important our audiences are empowered with knowledge so they can make informed decisions about their sexual health and wellbeing,” says Karen Price, Deputy CEO, ACON.

The evolution of an award-winning campaign

Our challenge was to evolve the Ending HIV campaign platform to promote the need for ongoing HIV and STI testing and treatment among sexually active gay men in NSW. We also needed to position STI testing and treatment as an integral part of Ending HIV 2020.

“For many years communication around STIs has taken a back seat – they’re not a death sentence – and it is tricky to change behaviour. The challenge here isn’t just to motivate people to get tested. We also need them to wear a condom, take PrEP if it’s right for them, talk to their partner and take action,” says Donovan.
 Evolving a Winning Campaign
 Evolving a Winning Campaign
 Evolving a Winning Campaign
A second solution was developed for a print campaign. We wanted to focus on the barriers that exist in people’s minds. Why don’t they talk? Why don’t they get tested? Even though they know they should.

The idea of thought patterns came about. Using the handwriting of past campaigns, we created a series of eye-catching visuals that express the feeling of liberation once you have done something you’ve been putting off but know you have to do.

Donovan, says, “The weight of your mind is what we tried to visualise with the print campaign. It’s a ripping off of layers. Moving from doubt into a more liberated and free frame of mind.”

Truly impactful outcomes

“We consider that the campaign platform Ending HIV and the successive campaigns released as part of this series since 2013 has been our most visible health promotion campaign work to date. Through this work, we have seen large increases in the level of community awareness of new HIV prevention approaches, as well as belief in the goal of virtually eliminating new HIV transmissions in NSW by 2020. In partnership with Frost*collective, we have engaged our communities, increased their health literacy, and seen people take action in record numbers. ACON’s work relies on strong community engagement, and Ending HIV has delivered – we are very proud this award-winning initiative, which has received international recognition,” says Karen Price of the campaign. 
 Evolving a Winning Campaign
 Evolving a Winning Campaign
 Evolving a Winning Campaign