How design branding can be used as a catalyst not for consumerism, but a social campaign for public health.

The early 1980s HIV rates in NSW hit a crisis point, and thus the Aids Council of NSW (ACON) was created in an attempt to survey, monitor and reduce these rates. Since 2013, Frost* Collective has partnered with ACON and has created five transdisciplinary campaign iterations as a part of the ‘Ending HIV’ initiative. A highly-visible plethora of posters, products, screen-based advertisements, events, billboards and active social media presence has aimed to “change the behaviour of a whole community” (A. Donovan, 2017), using design and branding to strategically achieve the mission of the NSW Government of ending HIV transmissions by 2020. 

A crucial element to this campaign and its success is that HIV can be made undetectable with appropriate treatment and thus limit the chances of an AIDS diagnosis, of which there is no known cure. However there is a clear link between diagnosis of the two conditions, “once recognised and treated, the risk of AIDS is lowered significantly” (M. Hurley 2007).

M. Hurley 2007. There is a clear link between diagnosis of HIV, as once treated, the risk of AIDS is lowered.

The mission of ACON, was to primarily spread awareness and encourage members of the NSW homosexual community to get tested for the condition and eradicate the chance of HIV being spread without the individuals knowledge. Four venues have been established in the Sydney area where patients can get tested on the spot and free of charge for various STIs and HIV, as well as roaming testing facilities for regional NSW all funded by the NSW Government for “prevention and reduction of transmissions” (R. Green, 2017).

Packaging used by ACON, designed by Frost*

The campaign to eradicate HIV began at the peak of the epidemic in 1987, with over 2,412 new cases, and has been overwhelmingly successful, smashing the rate to only 278 new diagnoses in 2018 while testing almost 160,000 patients (Health, NSW). Frost* uses “simple visual mnemonic” that is a “bold, simple black and white font-based approach… without need for colours, visuals or provocative imagery” (Y. Calmette, 2019 p.279), giving the campaign a sophisticated and contemporary design aesthetic.

Since the beginning of the Frost* and ACON campaign in 2013, similar results are obvious. (Frost, Updated 2019)

The campaign itself uses a complex set of messages to communicate various missions that enable a conversation about sexual health, especially using humour and risque visual graphics to lighten the mood in regards to a somewhat taboo subject.

“It is not only about condoms, but about building community awareness of other risk reduction methods.”

– Yves Calmette


ABC News, S. Sedghi 2018, Australian HIV rates declining overall, but not for everyone, Australia, viewed 20 November 2019, <>.

ABC News, O. Willis 2019, HIV diagnoses in Australia hit 18-year low, but there is still a way go, Australia, viewed 20 November 2019, <>.

Aubsson, K. 2018, AHIV on the rise in straight Australian men, Kirby Institute report, Australia, viewed 20 November 2019, <>.

Calmette, Y. 2018, ‘Ending HIV: an innovative community engagement platform for a new era of HIV prevention’, Digital Culture & Education MSM TG ICT Full Special Issue, pp. 130-150, viewed 20 November 2019, <>

Health NSW 2016, NSW HIV Strategy 2016-2020, Australia2016, viewed 20 November 2019, <>

Health NSW 2016, NSW HIV Strategy Annual 2018, Australia2019, viewed 20 November 2019, <>

Hurley, M. 2011, ‘When HIV is Endemic amongst Gay Men’, Out Here: Gay and Lesbian Perspectives, chapter 8, viewed 20 November 2019, <>

R. Green 2017, ACON’s various ‘ending HIV’ campaigns via Frost* collective inspires behavioural change, Australia, viewed 20 November 2019, <>.

Star Observer 2018, It’s what we do, new HIV testing campaign launched by ACON, Australia, viewed 20 November 2019, <>.

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