As Deadly As Ever

Reminding Those Most at Risk About AIDS
ATLANTA–As new treatments help AIDS patients live longer, the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry is battling a misconception that the HIV virus is becoming less of a danger. Kershner & Co. in Alexandria, Va., hopes a new print campaign will motivate high-risk groups to continue getting tested for the virus.
“With all the medical advances, there’s a feeling that [HIV/AIDS] is not as much of a threat,” said Dave Martin, creative director at the $10 million Kershner & Co. “But it’s still as much of a threat as ever.”
The Alexandria-based Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, known as Novam, stated in a newsletter that despite the the drop-off of AIDS deaths in recent years, at least 40,000 new HIV infections occur every year. Yet, according to the publication, 62 percent of all adults believe AIDS “will be well on the way toward defeat in five years.”
Kershner’s mission was to develop a campaign encouraging three specific groups to get tested for the disease. Novam, which had existing all-type ads, “wanted to do something more creative and new,” Martin told Adweek.
One execution targets youth of all races and sexual preferences. Showing close-ups of assorted pierced body parts, the headline reads, “One more pin prick ain’t gonna kill you.” Body copy urges, “The sooner you know if you’re HIV positive, the more effective the treatment will be.”
Aimed at an older, mostly gay population, another ad features a graying businessman with a concerned look on his face. “You’re old enough to know better, but you’re never old enough to be immune,” reads the body copy.
Both ads employ the tagline, “Test now. Live later.”
A mother silently watches as her teenage son stares at the television in a third ad. The headline proclaims, “You’re witnessing an assisted suicide.” Copy encourages parents to talk to kids about sex, AIDS and testing. The tag: “Talk about AIDS. Talk about testing.”
The pro bono campaign will be released in time for National HIV Testing Day, June 26, to local subscriber issues of national magazines including Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and Time.
Martin collaborated on the effort with copywriter Gary Drake and photographer Annie Adchavanich.