The Positivo Campaign and Social Norms

The Philly organization GALAEI recently launched a PSA campaign, Positivo, that really hits the nail on the head in terms of effective messaging and framing strategies. GALAEI, which is a queer Latino social justice organization, initially planned to create a campaign to reduce stigma around homosexuality and HIV in the Latino community in Philadelphia. After doing an on-the-ground survey, they discovered that the stereotype that the Latino community is homophobic and fearful of people living with HIV is simply not true.

They then switched gears and created a campaign that reflects this affirming, supportive reality back to the community. The ads feature Latinos from North Philadelphia, and focus on acceptance, pride, family, respect, beauty, and community.

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The campaign name, “Positivo” brings up the word “positive” as in “HIV positive” but shows something very different from typical message. These ads are not alienating or scary. They don’t focus on risk or illness. The below message, which is clearly focused on testing, doesn’t even use the word “test.” What is the call to action?

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Trick question! There isn’t one. Instead of telling you to do something, this ad shows you what everyone else is already doing (getting tested) and why they’re doing it (because they are an important part of a supportive and accepting community). This incredibly powerful ad technique is commonly known as “herd mentality.” Surprise surprise, we are strongly influenced by our perception of others’ behaviors. In academic circles, this is called the social norms approach, and it is most well known for its effectiveness in reducing binge-drinking and alcohol-related harm among college students (who tend to erroneously think that their peers are drinking way more than they are, and try to keep up). It has also been used on tobacco use reduction, DUI prevention, seat-belt use, and tax compliance, and now anti-violence and positive sexuality campaigns are starting to try it out. Have you seen any great campaigns recently that use the social norms approach?

Here are more of GALAEI’s amazing ads:

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To see some other directions that HIV prevention/awareness ads have taken, Osocio has a great list at the end of this post.

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