Anatomy of the buy: Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bleublancrouge's Line Desjardins tells MiC about the media strategy behind the pharmaceutical company's latest HIV-awareness campaign.

Bristol-Myers Squibb just released a viral video and unveiled a revamped website as part of its ongoing HIV awareness efforts.

Set to a loud music track, the dark video shows people getting violently injured by phantom causes, one by an invisible car, one drowning in an empty pool and one assaulted by an unseen attacker. At the end, the video’s tagline reads, ‘To those who don’t see the danger. HIV is still here. Get tested.’

As part of the campaign, the company also provided to AIDS service organizations and specialty clinics the One Life Toolbox, which includes the viral video, educational videos, ‘get tested’ postcards and condoms. The educational videos, available on the website, feature testimonials from people who have HIV.

This new portion of the two-year-old campaign builds on the work done through the summer, which included OOH, a media buy in gay-centric publications in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and booths at pride events in those cities. Here, Line Desjardins, account director, Bleublancrouge tells MiC about the media and creative strategy behind the campaign (both of which were handled by the Montreal-based agency).

What have you done differently for this phase of the campaign?
We have different ways of communicating with people, but the biggest one is the viral video. We have a team that we hired and we’ve done research to approach blogs and forums in Canada and around the world that are related to HIV and AIDS, gay/lesbian issues, anything that’s a link to what we were doing.

The ‘One Life’ campaign was launched in 2008 and the main focus was to encourage people to get tested. Twenty five percent of people living in Canada with HIV don’t know they have it. In 2008 and 2009, we were all about ‘get tested.’ It’s also important to have a ‘get care’ component for people who live with the virus. That was the new addition this year on the website.

We’re also buying search keywords, so if people are searching (online) for how to get tested, how to get care, then they see our website.

What is the target market?
The target market is more 18- to 35-year-olds, male, female, anyone. It’s not just for the gay community. In the video, we have young kids because we wanted to portray the 18-year-old. Then there’s the guy working in the [convenience store], who’s in his late 20s, and then you have the woman that’s in her 30s. There are more heterosexual women getting the virus, and it was important for us to break down the barriers and the stigmatization that it’s only gay people who have the disease, because that’s not true. That’s why we have in our educational videos, two heterosexual women talking about having the virus.

You mention in your news release that you’re trying to reach people who feel they’re invincible and could never get HIV. How did you target them specifically?
The viral video we did has a young feel to it. It’s impactful, it’s like a mini-movie. We think it’ll be really attractive for that segment of the population, and that’s why we had at the beginning that group of young kids in the park, having a party. Why we wanted to go after the invincible is because this is how people are telling us they feel [before getting HIV].

What are the challenges with a campaign like this?
The hardest part is, there’s still a lot of stigmatization, there are still people who have a hard time talking about it because of that. When we were looking for people to work in the [education] videos and give testimonials, there are still some people who have issues disclosing their name, and showing their face. But there’s another group that it’s completely the opposite, they want to be heard, they want to break down the barriers, they want to be seen and they want people to hear what they have to say. That was kind of a challenge. It’s a delicate subject.

Why does Bristol-Myers Squibb fund this?
At the end of the day, 25% of people with HIV in Canada don’t know they have it. If you get those people to get tested, you’re going to have more people into your system, so everybody’s a winner. It’s good for the people to know they’re HIV positive because when they don’t know about it, they spread the virus, and there are many things that happen, they can take care of their health as soon as they can…If we can encourage the people to get tested and take care of their disease, I think it’s going to profit not just the individual but also the pharmaceutical companies.