Beyond the Billboards
Author: David Robbins
loveLife is the most innovative and controversial initiative ever established in South Africa to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But who really knows the full story beyond those contentious billboards?
Throughout the 2000's the South African government's reluctance to fully respond to the rampaging HIV/AIDS epidemic created a storm of outrage both at home and aboad. Into the middle of that turmoil a groundbreaking effort to stem the tide of infection among the country's teenagers appeared. It battled hostile public opinion, daunting funding crises and ideological interference for daring to use commercial techniques to win the hearts and minds of young South Africans. Provocatively named loveLife, the initiative was accused of opportunism, of wasting money, of being too liberal,of promoting sex and consumerism, and even of obscenity. Closer to the ground however, loveLife established an unprecedented network of outreach and education programmes that penetrated schools and publi clinics, and that provided opportunities for face-to-face contact with millions of young people.
Whether visionary or misguided, loveLife became part of the national fabric. Beyond the Billboards provides a behind-the-headlines look at this remarkable initiative. It presents compelling insights into the strategy of brand-driven communication and countrywide community outreach, and the extraordinary effort it took to build and sustain a programme of sufficient scale to make a real difference. The book offers portraits of some of the thousands of young people working in their communities to change South Afican society for the better.