back to
success stories



The Task:

Inspire young adults to engage in safer sex in the midst of the raging South African HIV pandemic.



Our Role:

Inject sophisticated advertising methodologies and world class creativity into the dialogue between public health experts and ordinary South Africans.

As part of the ongoing Outward Incubation for Levi’s Red For Life Campaign Matchboxology was invited to a scientific presentation of the latest epidemiological research funded by USAID. Pairing corporate social opportunity learning with sophisticated public health research inspired SCRUTINIZE; a game changing, globally awarded humorous animated communications campaign that has measurably improved safer sexual behaviours and attitudes of a significant number of South Africans.

Equally innovative was the Matchboxology designed public private partnership between global consumer brand Levi’s & Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA), with funding from PEPFAR.

The campaign’s immense popularity and impact is largely attributable to Matchboxology’s unique ability to creatively collaborate with top animators, actors and comedians. The partnership inspired memorable South African township characters in unconventional stories that leave viewers with relevant HIV facts to easily integrate into their own world.

HIV itself is personified as a character - a stealth ninja who sneaks around under the cover of ignorance and lack of vigilance - infecting those who fail to keep him at bay with safe behaviour. Portraying the virus as a character helps young adults understand its dangerous characteristics (including the window period of viral load and the potential to accelerate the epidemic through multiple partners). Research also the visualization of the virus itself assists in lifting the burden of stigma from HIV-positive individuals.

The national campaign includes major on-campus events with top-flight local musicians and adds consumer-brand marketing insights to maximize the learning and behaviour impact of the ground community activations through organizations like DramAide.


Scientifically accepted measurable behaviour effects from SA National Communication Survey 2009:

48% of those with high levels of exposure to Scrutinize reported being faithful as a means of reducing their risk of HIV infection

71% of young males with high levels of exposure to Scrutinize reported using condoms in the past year

761 483 additional condom users can be attributed to Scrutinize in the first year of broadcast

43% of those who had high levels of exposure to Scrutinize reported asking or being asked by their partner to undergo HIV counselling and testing

Persons with high levels of exposure were also 1.5 times more likely to disclose their HIV status


USAID Global Best Practice 2009

Africomnet 2011 Award for Best Multichannel Communication Intervention.

Finalist; Annecy International Animation Festival 2009

Sunday Times/Vuka Teen Choice Award Winner 2009 (The only social campaign ever chosen)

What the client saw:

  • Public private partnership design
  • Logo and brand development
  • Strategic and creative social change communication
  • Media strategy
  • Events design and management
  • Award-global best practice

What Matchboxology saw:

  • Kids who didn’t understand HIV risk
  • Scientists with amazing facts who didn’t understand how to communicate with kids
  • The potential of a “Work it out for yourself” strategy
  • How to design a win-win public/private partnership
  • A highly attractive (and rewarding) creative opportunity for A list industry professionals


Photo Gallery: