In the words of the client, drug company Gilead, this bold campaign – to encourage people with HIV to care about their long-term health – "pushed the team’s comfort levels to the limit". But it proved a hugely successful way to tackle a challenging topic.
The campaign targeted middle-aged gay men and wanted to reframe the narrative, away from 'life support' to a more upbeat message about improving future health and happiness.
In a video, HIV-positive comedian, drag queen and gay-rights activist Panti Bliss leads a revolt during an in-flight safety demonstration, urging her fellow HIV-positive passengers to take control of their own future health rather than let others dictate to them.
Content was hosted on a website giving advice on ageing, wealth, health, finances, sex and relationships, written in the tone of magazine editorial using the flight theme. The site directs people to a 'health MOT' self-assessment tool, which was completed by 7,111 people.
The campaign was supported by regional 'airport lounge' events, where people could talk privately to experts about the issues. Through a partnership with dating app Grindr, flight-themed broadcast messages were sent to its one million gay users in the UK – leading to a 478 per cent increase in website engagement.
According to 90TEN, the campaign reached 29 million people in the gay community. The video had 710,000 views, 14,732 unique users visited the campaign website, and 87 per cent of event attendees said they had a better understanding of looking after their long-term health as a result.
"Truly innovative; a life-long campaign"
People living with HIV can now live as long as those without it, but the virus and its treatment can speed up the ageing process, increasing risk of illness later in life.
The campaign starred HIV positive drag queen and gay rights activist Panti Bliss and a cast of HIV positive men who rallied the community to start taking positive steps to help improve their future health prospects.
Flight HIV101 made long-term health a priority, started a conversation among people who had not considered it and led to 18% of the target population taking steps to improve their future health.