FierceMadness winner GSK ViiV's Dovato collage campaign draws complete picture of people living with HIV

GSK ViiV TV ad still from Dovato campaign
GSK's ViiV Healthcare first campaign for HIV med Dovato—and #FierceMadness' DTC ad campaign winner—features real patients like LáDeia. (ViiV Healthcare)

People with HIV are more than their diagnosis, of course. However, GlaxoSmithKline's ViiV figured out a creative way to get that message across in its Dovato DTC campaign—and nabbed the #FierceMadness advertising competition title for 2021.

Not only popular with Fierce Pharma voters, the campaign proved effective. Total brand awareness, both aided and unaided, was up 59% in December along with online searches, which were up 60% year over year, according to ViiV's data.

TV commercials show real patients talking about their careers, causes and passions while items from their lives—passports, work badges, pins, tickets, music cassettes and photos—come together into a portrait collage. The colorful collages then come to life as the real people: LáDeia, Alphonso, Kalvin and Morgan.

“So much goes into who I am. HIV medicine is one part of it,” each one says.

Longer online videos delve even deeper into each one of their stories along with other HIV patients who tell similar stories about the full and rich lives they lead.

Stepping into the national spotlight by starring in a TV commercial took bravery, Robin Gaitens, ViiV Healthcare’s product and community communications director, said. However, each person has willingly spoken up.

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline's ViiV brand Dovato wins #FierceMadness DTC ad tournament in closest contest yet

“The biggest common theme among them is they really want to combat HIV stigma, and they know this is the best way to do that—to get their stories out there and show they’re living very active lives. HIV is part of it, but it doesn’t define them,” she said.

The initial goals of the campaign, created by Havas Tonic and launched in August 2019, were to raise awareness of Dovato, encourage patients to talk to their doctor about the brand and reduce stigma around HIV.

ViiV’s tracking and anecdotal data point to clear check marks on the first two goals, which includes the 59% brand awareness jump between November 2019 and December 2020 and the 60% search lift. Organic interest, measured as consumers who go directly to the Dovato.com website without a link from another online or mobile source, has also steadily tracked upward since the campaign began, Gaitens said.

Physicians have told ViiV reps that patients are coming to them and asking about Dovato, and specifically mention the campaign as their reason for asking, she said.

The third goal, reducing stigma, is a tougher measurement. However, positive comments sent in and online from many consumers—along with capturing the FierceMadness championship—are signs that’s happening.

Words such as “destigmatizing” and “authentic” were used over and over in the comment section by voters during the two-week course of the contest.

RELATED: GSK's ViiV launches first campaign for new HIV med Dovato with real patient ambassadors

“It's so inspiring to see real patients discuss who they are outside of their diagnosis being represented on national TV,” one commenter said.

And that’s just what the stars of the commercial, and others living with HIV, told ViiV they wanted.

"We kept hearing from people living with HIV in our market research that 'there’s so much more to me than just my HIV status.'" Gaiten said. “They kept bringing up all the other things that made them unique and made them whole. That’s what we wanted to show.”