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UVL: Starting the conversation

Some chats can be a little awkward. To help get the conversation started, we teamed up with Ending HIV NZ and Sydney-based agency Frost*collective to produce this humorous PSA about Undetectable Viral Loads.

For Ending HIV NZ, a programme run by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Undetectable Viral Loads are a hot topic. With advancements in HIV treatment, it is possible for individuals living with HIV to lower the amount of HIV in their blood to a level that is no longer detectable in standard blood test – an Undetectable Viral Load (UVL). Individuals who maintain a UVL for more than 6 months can no longer transmit HIV during sex, even where a condom isn’t being used. For those whose lives have been affected by HIV, this is a revolutionary development! Needless to say, in the fight to end HIV, this is an invaluable step forward.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misinformation and stigma circulating among those unfamiliar with these scientific breakthroughs. In 2014, a study found that just 7% of New Zealanders would be prepared to have a sexual relationship with a person living with HIV, while only 45% would be willing to eat food prepared by an HIV positive person. To Ending HIV NZ, these stats called for an intervention – a down-to-earth, no-bullshit PSA to educate New Zealanders to the realities of living with an Undetectable Viral Load.

We have worked with Ending HIV NZ on several projects, including another UVL PSA earlier in the year featuring RuPaul Drag Race contestant and Big Brother winner Courtney Act. When the NZAF approached us with this concept for another UVL-centric campaign, featuring our favourite comedian and regular Chillbox collaborator Tom Sainsbury, we jumped at the opportunity. Working closely with Sydney-based design agency Frost*collective, we set to work to produce a short, 60-second spot and accompanying cut-downs. While the agency had provided the initial script, we were solely responsible for executing production – producing, directing, shooting, and editing each spot entirely in-house.

The finished short is a tight-knit, straight-up, and humorous discussion of UVL that was received with overwhelming positivity. The Facebook video racked up over 176k views, 144 shares, and, as designed, generated a healthy comment-thread discussion on UVL. Additionally, the campaign received national and international coverage on several prominent publications, including being named one of Stoppress’ ‘Ads of the Week‘. With stellar performances from actors Tom Sainsbury and Zak Enayat, the finished video is a uniquely Kiwi twist on the global U=U campaign – using humour to educated viewers and dispel harmful misinformation.

It just goes to show, faced with a stiff subject matter, sometimes humour can be just the right lubricant to get the job done.

If you’re interested in learning more about this campaign, you can find additional information at the following links:
Ending HIV NZ
Manly Male
Campaign Brief

Marketing Manager: Michael Shaw (NZAF)
Marketing and Communications Lead: Anthony Walton (NZAF)
Marketing Specialist: Trak Gray (NZAF)
Production Company: Chillbox
Director: Gabriel Lunte
Agency: Frost*Collective
Media Agency: Mediacom

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