Branded YouTube Series Drives Awareness For HIV Prevention


GSK’s ViiV Healthcare, the only pharma firm solely focused on HIV/AIDS care, has launched a short-form YouTube comedy series, “Backseat Hotseat,” that’s branded under its preventive medication, Apretude.

Introduced in early 2022, Apretude is a PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) drug, but unlike other meds in PrEP’s 10+-year history, it’s a long-term injectable rather than a daily pill.

Not to be confused with Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” “Backseat Hotseat” stars two other comedians -- Phoebe Robinson and Matteo Lane. They drive cars and have discussions with back-seat passengers designed to “get people talking about HIV prevention and sex in an open manner,” as Bithiah Lafontant, ViiV’s director, HIV Prevention Products and Community Communications, tells Marketing Daily.



The openness also resonates with audiences, she says.  Sometimes talk about sex and HIV can make people uncomfortable, but “by using humor and making it a little more open, you’re not only talking about HIV prevention, you’re talking about sex, you’re taking about love, you’re talking about dating, [so] people are more open to the conversation.”

ViiV’s target audience is the estimated 70% of 1.2 million people who could benefit from PrEP, but don’t use it now, Lafontant says. That 70% is disproportionately Black and Latino -- and also includes a growing female segment.

In that respect, Robinson – a Black female – is a great asset, she says. Often, she explains, women in general don’t see PrEP being marketed to them, so “they don’t think it’s something they should be paying attention to. We wanted to make sure we had a female voice in there, that folks could identify with.”

Three episodes of “Backseat Hotseat” are now up, with another three coming soon, says Lafontant.

ViiV is promoting “Backseat Hotseat” to potential viewers via paid YouTube ads from Havas, as well as media appearances and influencer marketing from Robinson and Lane.

ViiV is also sponsoring the 16th season of MTV’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” as shown in this promo, as well as a “RuPaul” spinoff YouTube series, “Glam Slam.”

The “RuPaul” TV sponsorship includes both Apretude commercials and unbranded “Get PrEPed” segments providing viewers with “the reasons why they should think about prevention,” says Lafontan

The use of celebrities is nothing new for Viiv/Apretude, whose past campaigns have included Karamo Brown of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” in conversations with Apretude users, as well as Taye Diggs and others in a campaign titled “Me in You, You in Me.”


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