New Zealand gains support through Love Your Condom campaign
Our neighbours over the Tasman in New Zealand have had an incredible response to their latest sexual health campaign, Love Your Condom, which has attracted much interest at the AIDS 2014 Conference.
The Love Your Condom campaign is a shift in messaging for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF), using strong positive messages around condom usage.
"Research was telling us that fear based approaches were no longer effective," Executive Officer of NZAF, Shaun Robinson, told GNN.
Robinson said that people had become quite complacent about HIV in New Zealand, and simply giving knowledge about HIV wasn't effective and they needed to implement a fresh approach to safe sex promotion.
"What we needed to focus on was behaviour," he said.
"Lets face it – when you're thinking about sex, you want to be thinking about fun and pleasure, you don't want to be thinking about fear.
"So we've got much more reach by making it exciting and pro-sexual, which means behind the messages is 'have as much sex as you choose to have, as long as you're using condoms"
The Love Your Condom campaign was implemented across approximately 25 smart phone apps and social media platforms, not only using advertising, but interactive engagement as well.
One of the most creative strategies included a sticker which was placed in urinals in bars and clubs with an explicit picture of two men engaged in a sexual act with the line, "love your cock", but when urinated on, turned to "love your condom".
The campaign also included traditional marketing strategies including outdoor advertising where people could submit their photo using a hash-tag on social media to be a face for the campaign.
Acknowledging the lack of sexual education in New Zealand, the NZAF decided to incorporate sexual education in their messages after finding research stating people are twice as likely to use a condom consistently if they use a condom during their first sexual encounter.
"Sex education, if occurs in any meaningful way at all, tends to be heterosexual biased, and a lot of young gay men are growing up not really knowing much about their own sex and sexuality and how to actually have sex safely," Mr Robinson told GNN.
The educational videos included topics filmed very explicitly such as, 'how to have anal sex', 'how to put on a condom' and an 'ask a sexpert' section which are all complimented with a support and counselling arm.
The videos saw visits to the NZAF website triple in the first month.
Mr Robinson said it was too early to see long-term results from the campaign, but they are already impressed with preliminary data.
"We initially did see a very big drop in HIV infections, and since the campaign has ramped up we've seen a ten per cent reduction.
"Testing has increased dramatically though the NZAF services and as far as we can tell, the number of men testing for HIV has increased quite significantly over 4 years.
"One of the challenges for us is how can we incorporate the new discoveries and developments into this program without undermining the fundamental message of condoms every time"
The NZAF campaign is also a finalist for two accolades in the annual TVNZ Marketing Awards, including Non For Profit Industry Award and the Judges Choice Award, to be announced in August.
Although the NZAF has not received any new funding for the project, Mr Robinson said they would keep working with the New Zealand Health Ministry to encourage further support.