Sexually Transmitted Infections are on the rise.
Is it a lack of sexual education? Lapses in judgement in the heat of the moment? Perhaps. But according to experts, it’s casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, arranged using dating apps that are causing the stats to sky rocket.
The apps help us meet new people faster and easier than ever before. Unfortunately, some of these people carry things like Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, and Herpes. And there spreading them like wild fire.
To raise awareness and remind people to play safe, I created profiles for common STIs, they were upload them to Tinder and matched with real users of the app.
In a collaboration with Aussie company, HERO Condoms, who generously donate 1 condom to Botswana for every one they sell locally, I present the following positive health message.
After loading the profiles into the app, and vigorously swiping right, Tinderers began matching with the profiles, not even realising they were STIs and the banter began to flow. within two days, we received heaps of matches with both chicks and dudes. Some knew something was up early, thinking it was really clever idea. Others invited Charamydia out to dinner without even realising. Click the selected convo screenshots to enlarge.
When Tinderellas and Fellas double backed and checked through the profiles properly, they were delivered a health message from Hero condoms in the Image carousel. This message was consistent across all of the profiles.
Collaboration with HERO condoms.
Whilst developing the idea, I felt that the overall message would 'be safe' 'use a condom'. So I decided to reach out to a condom brand to complete the idea. I found HERO condoms.
HERO is a socially responsible FMCG business that aims to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in developing countries. It currently donates one HERO condom to Botswana for every HERO condom sold in Australia. HERO condoms are available at Woolworths, Coles, IGA, Convenience stores and pharmacies. 29-year-old entrepreneur Dustin Leonard founded the company in 2012.
I felt HERO would be a perfect match for this project. I got in contact with Dustin, who liked the idea, and I began working with David, the company's marketing director to bring the idea to life.
Making the profile portrait images.
Nobody wants to be the public face of Gonorrhoea.
So the profile pictures by blending facial features from many different selfies from all over the world in Photoshop.
They were then further refined using the profile editing app 'Facetune' and various filters from Instagram. This further distorted the faces and gave them an authentic ‘filtered’ look inline with the kind of pictures people use on Tinder.
It took ages to make these pictures, but at least the people are completely anonymous, because they don’t exist. The many portrait drawings I have done over the years really helped me out with this one.
Writing the 'about me' bios.
This was fun. Imagining what an STD would say if they had to make a Tinder profile for itself ma
After a lot of ‘research’ on Tinder, it didn't take long to pick up some of the common ways that users sell themselves on the app. These bio clichés included: Lists, adventurering, height paranoia, not DTF, Marylyn Monroe quotes, heavy emoji usage, and ‘only swiping right for dogs’.
All of these pieces of Tinder language were given an ‘infection twist’ to communicate what the STDs can do, in an engaging way.
I also spent a lot of time on baby name websites to find to real names to pun with the STI names. I think Johnny is my fave.
Old school sexual health warning posters.
Whilst developing the idea, I remembered the war era sexual health warning posters. These posters had an impression on me for some reason and I feel there are similarities between them and this project.
The use of personification and plays on words are common factors. Perhaps Tinder HERO is a modern day version of these posters. Not to menstion less sexist.
The aim of this idea is to ignite a conversation about safe sex.
Don’t get me wrong, Tinder is cool. But there needs to be more awareness generated around new age sexual health. I hope that this project encourages young people to educate themselves about the potential risks that come with casual sex. We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves as well as current and future partners from danger. Even if you only plan on knowing them for very short time.
HERO condoms are an example of the companies we need more of. I also hope that this project raises awareness of what they do, and that is reflected in a rise in condoms donated overseas. Use them.
Update: Australian HIV activists called for the AIDS profiles to be removed due to the 'potential of stigma'. To be clear, the tone of the campaign was the same as this almost identical skit in ABC's Luke Warm Sex which wasn't met with controversy when nationally broadcast. See the profiles here.