The most complained-about ad campaign of 2011 is returning to bus stops in Queensland, just as many in the team behind it face redundancy this week.
Last year’s Rip & Roll ad featuring two gay men holding a condom received a barrage of complaints, with most of them coming from an orchestrated action led by the Australian Christian Lobby.
Now the *Queensland Association for Healthy Communities campaign returns to 35 bus shelters and billboards around Surfers Paradise, Townsville, Cairns, Capalaba and Albion. This year there are three men together, with one of them holding a bright green condom.
Same Same caught up with Healthy Communities Director Paul Martin to discuss the new campaign and also hear how on the recent defunding of Queensland’s only LGBTIQ health organisation is affecting its activities.
Same Same: Last year’s Rip & Roll Campaign caused quite the stir, Do you you think this will cause a similar controversy?
Paul Martin: This is the third year of the campaign, and we had always planned to keep the campaign running for a few years, with different models and different elements – for example this year there are the behind the scenes videos. In the first year the outdoor advertising featured a single man – Farmer Dave. The second year there was a couple and this third year we see a group of three friends.
We haven’t set out to make the campaign controversial. In fact we’ve designed the version for outdoor advertising to be a subtle as possible. The men are clothed, there’s no ‘rude’ words, there’s no depiction of sex acts.
While we think there isn’t any reason for anyone to have a problem with the adverts, we are of course prepared to explain and defend them if need be. The overwhelming response from the public last year and the ruling of the Advertising Standards Bureau showed the vast majority of Queenslanders support the campaign and recognised its importance.
We think that many people will recognise the Rip&Roll image and message and will appreciate seeing the next version of the campaign. There are a bunch of new models in the outdoor and LGBT advertising, including for the first time a trans man. We expect that the campaign will reinforce condom use as a community norm among gay men, by using a sex positive and affirmative approach, rather than fear, blame or guilt.
With funding being withdrawn from Healthy Communities, how is the organisation going now?
Everyone’s coping in their own way, but the common feelings are of anger and helplessness. We know that the approach that Healthy Communities is taking to HIV prevention is in line with international best practice, and this was confirmed at the recent International AIDS Conference in Washington.
The reasons given for our defunding by minister Springborg are based on misinformation about the HIV epidemic in Qld/Australia, a misunderstanding of how population based health promotion works and a misrepresentation of our organisation. But we are powerless to change his decision, given he won’t even meet with us.
What are the plans for the future?
This Friday will see 22 staff being made redundant from our offices in Brisbane, Maroochydore and Cairns. These are all people delivering and supporting frontline services for the LGBT communities of Queensland. The lack of these services will have a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of LGBT Queenslanders. For staff who have dedicated themselves to HIV prevention and LGBT health, there is little if any employment in these areas in Queensland. Several staff are having to move interstate where their skills and experience can be utilised.
And is the community still getting behind Healthy Communities?
We’ve certainly appreciated the great response we’ve had from people volunteering and making donations. It will take us a little time to adjust from having a larger staff team to a smaller team, but volunteers will be crucially important. We’ve had over $11,000 in donations in the past few months, which is great, but for the organisation to survive in coming years we really need large donations or sponsorships of $50,000-plus. We’ll also continue to look for funding from government and philanthropic trusts.
And designed for gay media eyes only, here’s a more sexy image from the latest Rip&Roll campaign: