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Brothers for Life, a South African NGO, tasked us with creating awareness around the HIV pandemic in South Africa and promoting safe sex in order to prevent the spread of the disease.


We had a core audience of young, tech-savvy South African Internet users. We knew that traditional HIV-related messaging by government was not compelling to this audience, so we needed a more relevant way to cut through specifically for them.


A simple, cost-effective, but innovative activation that capitalised on the increasing use of USB memory sticks to create an unexpected message about HIV in rich video format and on a very personal 1to1 basis.

Strategy, execution and roll out:

In order to dramatise the relaxed attitude towards unprotected sex that is a growing trend amongst young South Africans, and which puts them at risk of contracting HIV, we used the metaphor of people inserting memory sticks into their computers without considering the possibility of viruses.

To this end, we created a consignment of memory sticks branded with individuals' names, which we planted on World AIDS Day 2012 in public gathering places in and around Johannesburg.

Once users had inserted the memory sticks into their computers, they were immediately confronted with an HIV-positive icon, which linked to videos about South Africans who tell the real stories about the reality of being HIV positive.


Each video ended with a strong call to action by Brothers for Life for users to take charge of their lives and use a condom to prevent the spread of HIV. Innovatively, users were then encouraged to spread the word and not the virus, by leaving the memory stick in a public space for others to discover.

This never-seen-before use of media was not measured statistically, despite being digital, as we strategically felt that once a person realises they are being measured, they would then be less willing to engage in this communication. We did encourage traffic to the Brothers for Life website, but did not capture the names of or information about those who visited, as the subject of HIV is not something that everyone wants to align their name and personal information with.