Reversing AIDS

When The Topsy Foundation gratefully accepted the partnership with Ogilvy JHB and Egg Films for the production of the Selinah Commercial they never imagined the impact and success that it would have. Since the release of this phenomenal commercial it has received interest and commendations from around the world. Earlier this year the commercial won one of the highest honours at the 57th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2010, a coveted Cannes Gold Lion award in the Film category, the first time in 11 years for a South African agency. The thought provoking ad then went on to claim Gold at the South African Loerie Awards - the highest possible attainment for a nonprofit production - as well as achieving Gold in the category Truly South African at the Pendoring Awards.

This winning ad shows the true story of Selinah, an AIDS sufferer. Each day of her metamorphic three month recovery - accomplished with the administration of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) - was graphically documented by the team and pieced together in reverse order. The ad starts with a supposedly healthy woman climbing into bed who gradually transforms into a human skeleton - which was Selinah - pre-ARVs.

The remarkable piece is one of many fundraising initiatives developed by Ogilvy and is testimony to the relationship between the agency and The Topsy Foundation that stretches back over ten years. “Since the launch of the campaign earlier this year, we have seen an unprecedented influx of support from donors, and the number of patients requesting ARV treatment has also risen sharply,” says Silvia de Jager, Executive Director at The Topsy Foundation. “We’re all familiar with the spectre of the person who gets AIDS and wastes away before our eyes.

But what most people don’t realize is that the recovery of an AIDS sufferer on anti-retrovirals (ARV’s) is every bit as dramatic. In just 90 days, a person can regain all the health they’ve lost. It’s called the Lazarus effect.” Ogilvy Jo’burg’s Fran Luckin, Executive Creative Director, responded to the Cannes win: “The fact that a campaign that is so close to all our hearts has won Gold, unanimously voted by the judges and so positively received by the audience, is incredibly rewarding. This was a labour of love for all of us, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of the production crew, who filmed Selinah every day for three months, and the commitment of the creative team who saw their vision literally come alive before their eyes.”

The Topsy Foundation provides relief services to some of South Africa’s most under-resourced rural communities.

Article Photos