Brothers for Life receives the highest global advertising accolade

Brothers for Life receives the highest global advertising accolade

Joe Public the creative brains behind the Brothers for Life Campaign last night was awarded a Global Health Award in the category Consumer Social Commitment.

Now in their eighteenth year, The Global Awards(r) are recognized as the only awards dedicated to excellence in healthcare communications on an international basis.

“We are deeply honoured by this award because it is undoubtedly the noblest function of creativity to influence behavior and change lives. It is also a great privilege to represent South African advertising on the global stage”, says Xolisa Dyeshana, Creative Director at Joe Public.

 “The SANAC Men’s is thrilled to learn about this award for the Brothers for Life campaign”, says Bafana Khumalo, Chairperson of the SANAC Men’s Sector and Senior Programme Specialist at Sonke Gender Justice. 

“The campaign was adopted by the sector from the beginning and has been a trailblazing intervention positively engaging men on issues of HIV, GBV and healthy living broadly. We congratulate colleagues at Joe Public. I am certain the campaign would not have had the reach and visibility it has had without their creative input and the passionate commitment over the years. The award is a confirmation that the campaign resonates with majority men in our country and is a making a difference.”

Richard Delate, Managing Director of Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa that coordinates the implementation of the Brothers for Life campaign says, “The partnership with Joe Public has enabled Brothers for Life to create powerful creative executions that speak not only to the rational but also appeals to the emotions of South African men and women. This powerful combination ignites a dialogue in homes, workplaces and in society at large that ultimately contributes towards a national dialogue of who we as South African men want to be”. 

Brothers for Life was launched on the 29th of August 2009 in KwaMashu and seeks to address a range of social issues; such as the risks associated with multiple and concurrent partnerships, sex and alcohol and gender based violence (GBV) while similarly promoting HIV testing, male involvement in PMTCT, medical male circumcision and promoting positive, healthy male norms.

Brothers for Life addressed gender based violence through telling the story of well known South African personality Patrick Shai’s personal journey in an effort to talk to directly to men who are abusive towards their partners that they have the power to change.

Qualitative research with audiences indicated that this advert had an enormous emotional appeal on the views and attitudes of consumers with many reflecting on their own behavior, experiences and history in relation to Gender Based Violence. The campaign promoted the uptake of services through the use of the Stop GBV Helpline Number, during which time the call rate by men to the Helpline increased by 13%.

In 2010 Brothers for Life embarked on a national campaign to increase levels of knowledge about the HIV benefits of medical male circumcision. In 2012 this campaign was intensified through drawing on the stories of South African men who have been circumcised as a means to encourage men to take up medical male circumcision. The campaign is linked to an SMS number that enables clients to locate their closest clinic.

The National SMS Site locator has had on average around 4000 – 7000 queries per month from men intending to get circumcised. Preliminary findings from the National HIV Communication survey revealed that combined South Africa’s national communication programmes, including Brothers for Life, resulted in a 39% of increase in the knowledge of men and women about the HIV benefits of medical male circumcision from 8% in 2009 to 47% in 2012.. Clinical data shows that in 2012, there has been a marked increase in the uptake of medical male circumcision in South Africa since the campaign started focusing on medical male circumcision in 2012.

Harnessing the power and potential of social media, Brothers for Life created a twitter army comprising 1000 Twitter accounts on the eve of World Aids Day 2011.

Numbered HIV+0001 to HIV+1000 respectively. Each account tweeted hourly for the next 24 hours, signing off each tweet with the hashtag #HIVarmy, so the Twitter community could follow our campaign.At midnight, every account was killed, their avatars changing to read ‘Deceased’, demonstrating the sheer number losing their battle with Aids. The final tweet read, ‘One thousand South Africans die of Aids every day. They don’t have to. Support Brothers for Life and help us turn this around. #HIVarmy’.

Over the twenty-four hours the hashtag, #HIVarmy, was taken up by fellow tweeters, celebrities and radio personalities alike not only retweeting our messages, but also attached their own sentiments to the cause. Twitter Army trended first in Johannesburg, then Durban, then Cape Town and then South Africa. By 11am it was trending globally – setting up a worldwide discussion, in a colloquial, relevant and entirely real way, without spending a single penny.

Brothers for Life campaign is the South African national men’s campaign and is a collaborative effort between the South African National AIDS Council Men’s Sector (SANAC), the Department of Health, USAID/PEPFAR, Sonke Gender Justice (SGJ), Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa, the United Nations system and over 100 NGO partners. Funding for the campaign has largely been through the United States Agency for International Development and the US President’s Agency for AIDS Relief, UNICEF and the Danish International Development Agency.