When brainstorming how to get traction for your ad campaign (or anything else for that matter), AIDS jokes are really never the best way to go.
Because while granted, we are taking the time to write about condom company Hero out of Australia, it’s not going to contribute to more sales for the company — we can say that with near certainty.
A series of cheeky ads the company produced on Tinder that anthropomorphize various STIs, including HIV/AIDS, have backfired after many consumers failed to see the humor.
And while the entire series is one giant head scratcher, it’s these two characters, named “Aydes” and “Aidy”, that produced the most scalp itch as they offer jokes about HIV and AIDS:
Nic Holas, the co-founder of The Institute of Many, an umbrella group for HIV-positive people, spoke to BuzzFeed News about how the ads do damage.
“Beyond the factual errors, the campaign associates human characteristics with STIs, reinforcing the idea that certain types of people are to blame for STIs. Avoiding a ‘certain type of person’ isn’t how you avoid contracting STIs,” he said.
“It contributes to stigma surrounding STIs, which is precisely what leads to people not getting tested and treated for them.”
“The most glaring [errors] are the AIDS-related profiles. AIDS is a syndrome that you can’t catch off a Tinder root.
“The profiles ramp up the horror story narrative with STI symptoms and treatments, i.e. penile swabs which is an outdated and abandoned practice.”
The other ads don’t exactly hit the mark either:
Dustin Leonard, the company’s cofounder, said “The aim of this campaign was to destigmatise condom use. It was never our intention to single out people living with HIV or AIDS.”
“Would the response have been different if we’d made similar jokes about STIs other than HIV or AIDS? We would never want to stigmatise people living with AIDS,” he added.
“The ads have been very well received. We’ve had coverage in Mashable the New York Daily News, and the Daily Mail. I think there’s been one negative article.”
Well, make that two.
And one pissed-off Tweet from Troye Sivan: