NAT got St Luke's onboard for the first time. It delivered a pro-bono campaign titled 'Rock The Ribbon,' which features Childish Gambino's choreographer, Sherrie Silver and the recognisable voice of Stephen Fry.
As HIV still carries a negative connotation, a residual sentimentality left over from the 1980's AIDS crisis, the charity recognised that it needed a positive and empowering campaign to show solidarity with people living with the illness, and encourage others to do the same. Just last year, a study showed 1 in 5 would be uncomfortable wearing the ribbon, a shocking fact that the charity hopes to combat.
Commenting directly to The Drum on the campaign, NAT's chief executive, Deborah Gold said: "this is a positive and empowering campaign which says wear the ribbon, be really proud. We know that there is a stigma attached to wearing the red ribbon and people worry about what it says about them, so we wanted to do something powerful and positive."
What better way than to get the self-taught mastermind behind Childish Gambino's revered 'This is America' video to literally 'Rock The Ribbon' in an abandoned school gymnasium.
Directed by James Fitzgerald through Sonny, the film begins out of class hours in a seemingly abandoned school, with light murmurs of Erasure's 'A Little Respect' gradually breaking through the void.
Enter the 23-year-old Silver, partnered with an eye-capturing red ribbon. Together, they cut through the empty gymnasium hall, filling the space with passionate rhythmic dance.
Unbeknown to the security guard, distracted by his tea and TV, Silver escapes capture as she continues to express herself through the red ribbon which signifies the Aids awareness ribbon.
As Silver exits the school defiantly, Stephen Fry's voiceover implores the viewer: "Whoever you are, whatever you're doing, show your support for people living with HIV this World Aids Day, and Rock the Ribbon."
St Luke's executive creative director Richard Denney informed The Drum that before filming the ad, Silver had never actually danced with a ribbon before.
"Someone had dropped a ribbon off for her when she arrived in the UK. She meant to go straight to the dance studio but ended up just doing something at home and thinks 'yeah I can do this,'" Denney recalled.
"And then she just turned up on the day, and we start playing the music and she just does that. The difference with her is you can feel her performance, she's properly rocking the ribbon."
This is the first campaign in recent years where NAT has not done everything in-house or through creative freelancers. Commenting on the relationship, Gold said: "it's been a really brilliant partnership."Denney confirmed it is a partnership he hopes to see continue, as St Luke's don't "want it to just go back to normal, for the campaign to show its head and disappear."
The campaign message will be supported by out of home media nationwide and across social media. The ‘Rock the Ribbon’ message will receive further attention on the day itself with a dance-themed event at Westfield London, which will encourage the public to rock the ribbon themselves through a dance mat and giant OOH screen. The activation was designed by St Luke’s with digital technology provided by DOOH.com.