The loveLife Brand (A): Initiating a Behavior Change in South African Youth to Prevent HIV

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG157
Case Length : 27 Pages
Period : 1999 - 2003
Organization : Not Applicable
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : South Africa
Industry : Not Applicable

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"Past HIV prevention efforts have had little effect. We need innovative approaches that target young people directly - that speak their language - and that make safer sex behavior second nature … In South Africa, loveLife has turned youth public health education on its head. loveLife is one of the few examples of good practice in the world today."1

- Richard Holbrooke, President and CEO of the Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS, in 2002.

"The idea is to make loveLife a brand. In South Africa you have incredible brand loyalty and recognition. We want to compete with Levi's, Diesel, Coca-Cola. ...LoveLife positions itself as a healthy lifestyle, which is cool and hip. Like it or not, young people here have bought into American youth culture, and to reach them we need to be there."2

- Angela Stewart-Buchanan, Media Director, loveLife, in 2003.

"It seems mad to experiment to see whether teenagers living through very difficult times can be persuaded to choose a new sexual lifestyle as they might choose a new brand of shampoo."3

- Helen Epstein, author, in 2003.

"Talk About it"

In February 2002, a national survey of teenagers in South Africa, conducted by the Africa Strategic Research Corporation4 and the US-based Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation5 (KFF), found that teenagers reacted positively to the campaigns of loveLife, South Africa's national HIV6 prevention program for youth. By the end of 2003, it was reported that the number of new infections in young South Africans had witnessed a decline over the previous two years. Analysts opined that the results were partly attributed to the loveLife HIV prevention program. loveLife was a multi-million dollar HIV prevention program that was launched in South Africa in 1999 with the stated aim of reducing the rate of HIV infection among youth by 50 percent within five years.

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High risk sexual behavior among South African youth was identified as a key factor that was responsible for the increase in HIV/AIDS infections in South Africa. Experts felt that efforts by many governmental and non-governmental HIV prevention programs since the late 1980s had been largely unsuccessful in changing the sexual behavior of the youth in South Africa.

It was reported that though awareness about HIV/AIDS related issues were high, people still indulged in high-risk behaviors (such as, having unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, early initiation to sexual activity, etc).

loveLife launched an innovative marketing campaign that was different from the existing HIV prevention programs. It used various branding techniques to position loveLife as a lifestyle brand and had the punch line "talk about it." Its initial teaser campaigns in outdoor media and promotion of healthy lifestyle values in later campaigns were aimed at influencing the South African youth to adopt a healthy lifestyle and perceive safe sex as 'cool' and 'hip'.

The loveLife Brand (A): Initiating a Behavior Change in South African Youth to Prevent HIV - Next Page>>

1] "Nelson Mandela and loveLife Launch National Youth Corps to Fight HIV/AIDS in South Africa,", February 10, 2002.

2] "Sexy Ads Boosts S Africa's Fight Against AIDS," The Guardian, Johannesburg,, May 23, 2003.

3] Ron Irwin, "loveLife Ground Breaking,", September 8, 2003.

4] Africa Strategic Research Corporation is a research firm based in Johanesburg, South Africa.

5] The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit philanthropic private operating foundation headquartered in Menlo Park, California, USA.

6] HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). A person infected with HIV is called HIV positive. In the long run, HIV leads to AIDS.

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