Campaign: Vangardist HIV Heroes Issue
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland
Brand: Vangardist Magazine


Would you hold a magazine printed with HIV-infected blood? It’s a challenging question, and one the Vangardist magazine has boldly asked of their readers.

Vangardist is a “progressive” lifestyle magazine aimed at English-speaking men in Germany. They saw it as their responsibility to bring attention to issues that affect their audience, one of these being HIV. As Julian Wiehl, the magazine’s publisher and CEO says, “We believe that as a lifestyle magazine it is our responsibility to address the issues shaping society today.”

The publication of the magazine is timed to coincide with the Life Ball, one of the world’s biggest AIDS charity events. The solution was conceived by Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland.

Blood from three HIV positive donors were mixed with traditional printing ink. Since the HIV infection dies once it is outside of the human body it is 100% safe to handle. The print run of the #HIVHeroes edition is limited to just 3,000 copies. Content includes interviews with AIDS sufferers, and historical analysis of the taboo that surrounds it.

A website coinciding with the publication was produced featuring real life stories as well as allowing people to read the issue online or download the magazine’s app. Importantly for such a high profile launch, the design of the issue is of the highest standard, and features a striking blood-red cover.

The fact that we’re shocked by this publication is an indication that there is a huge stigma still associated with the disease. As Wiehl elaborates in the dramatic promo video “Breaking the seal of the magazine is breaking the stigma of HIV.”

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Images: Vangardist