Live with it," named in tribute to the millions of people who refuse to allow HIV to destroy their lives, is a dark and gritty
animated series that doesn't pull any punches when showing just how difficult it is to live with the disease. The series,
produced by healthcare ad agency Ignite Health, is an example of how pharmaceutical companies can use non-traditional media
to disseminate disease-awareness messages to new or wider audiences.
"The reason we chose [to make a dramatic cartoon] was because pharmaceutical, company-based, corporate-based education is
always trying to show people that are enjoying sort of a freedom of lifestyle—that now because of these therapies they can
smile and they can walk on the beach," says Fabio Gratton, chief innovation officer of Ignite Health. "We wanted to focus
on a message that was a little bit more dramatic. And when you do drama, it requires tension; it requires a little bit of
intrigue and mystery, and a little bit of drama in essence."
The idea for the cartoon series was born out of the need for easier-to-digest educational materials, in a format other than
print. Ignite self-produced the series (it was not hired by a pharma company), but the first two episodes of the series are
sponsored by Gilead, the company that makes the HIV treatment Truvada. A short, skippable advertisement for Truvada appears
before each episode begins, offering the viewer the option to click to the product Web site.
Figuratively Speaking Isaac Mudd and Trevor Goodman are two of the characters in Ignite Health's animated HIV-awareness series
"Live With It."
"There's so much noise and activism in the HIV space that we really needed something to break through," Gratton says. "And
that was one of the critical lynchpins of our decision to look for something that was going to be a breakthrough strategy."
Live With It
The "Live With It" campaign was designed to capture what living with a disease is really like. Rather than focus on a specific
product or therapy, the cartoons offer stories that aim to depict experiences to which patients can relate.
In the series' first episode, the audience meets Isaac Mudd, a single, possibly gay, HIV-positive patient, as he makes his
way to his first HIV support meeting. Through the story, he remembers how he found out he was infected and the depression
that followed. At the meeting, he meets Trevor Goodman, who says to Mudd, "Start living with it. There'll be plenty of time
to die later." Episode two, entitled "Trevor," picks up where the first episode leaves off. This time the focus is on Trevor's
life, a married man struggling to tell his pregnant wife he is HIV positive.
Multiple choice "Live With It" is a five-part series that can be downloaded to a computer, an iPod, or streamed directly from
Ignite Health extends the storyline through blogs created for each character on
http://MySpace.com/, and message boards on a Web site that offer viewers the opportunity to review the episodes and leave comments. "We don't
end the episodes by saying, 'And here's the lessons that you need to learn about this,'" Gratton says. "Everybody takes something
different from it—some people will like it, some people won't. Some people will get it, some people won't."