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Branded entertainment is still a developing area in Australia. Brands tend towards sponsoring shows in which they can integrate their message as opposed to live experience and online content.

There have only been a handful of fully ad-funded TV shows, and fewer have been broadcast in primetime. There are no legal restrictions for the three free-to-air TV networks, other than regulating programming to appropriate audiences, such as adult content after 7pm.

Branded entertainment is usually characterised by funny and lighthearted attention-grabbing content. In a different yet equally gripping approach we used compelling storytelling techniques to communicate complex, sensitive and controversial themes regarding issues associated with sex for gay men – themes that had never been spoken about or explored publicly in Queensland, Australia.


The HIV Foundation Queensland aims to reduce HIV transmissions across Queensland and strives to achieve a generation free of HIV. The foundation is an inclusive organisation not only for the people at risk of and living with HIV, but for the whole community. They recognized the need for a campaign specifically targeting the gay community.

While the gay community is aware of safe sex messages, HIV testing is irregular and the stigma that runs rampant throughout the gay community cripples individuals and their families.

The strategy was to share real stories from people who openly and honestly discuss the issues in a relatable and engaging way. We tackled heavy issues specific to gay men:

• Male rape and sexual assault.

• Assumptions that because a partner doesn’t disclose their positive status it is okay to have unsafe sex.

• Young males who think HIV is no longer an issue.

These sensitive, complex and controversial issues had never been spoken about or explored publicly in Queensland.

The foundation’s values promote harmony, understanding and acceptance. The best way for the campaign to achieve this was by fostering an honest conversation that created an open dialogue between HIV positive men and HIV negative men, breaking down stigma and discrimination.

The films provide a unique glimpse into an audience previously marginalised, revealing heart wrenchingly raw wounds.

Our characters openly reveal the stigma they deal with and help dispel misconceptions surrounding HIV as they live with optimism and enthusiasm for the future.


The End HIV message has been getting through.

An independent article in the Brisbane Times stated that HIV testing amongst Queensland’s gay male community increased by 36% in 2014. Over 1900 people took advantage of rapid HIV tests in clinics across Brisbane (the capital city) alone.

The Stigma video generated real traction - over 750 shares, comments and likes, and ten media articles about HIV.

The content was so groundbreaking and culturally poignant the 20th International AIDS Conference requested to play the films at their Candlelight Vigil.

The campaign resonated so well with the gay community that in December 2014 the decision was taken to run the films in cinemas across Queensland.

Attitudes towards HIV have changed and this campaign has unequivocally saved lives.

An emotional email from one of the film’s participants:

“Very few people knew I have HIV before I did this film… I was terrified… this incredible project has changed my life… I was very depressed before doing this, I now feel strong and confident - I think you may have saved my life. Thank you from the entire gay community."

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