We were introduced to Housing Works through pure serendipity. Lexicontent co-founder Amanda had recently embarked on a journey toward healthy living and had ordered a used book from Amazon called “A Short Guide to a Long Life.” When it arrived, a bright red bookmark slipped out and fell to the floor with the words “AIDS FREE 2020” printed on ribbons.

Curious about the campaign, Amanda began her research and was immediately blown away by the organization’s various wings and departments, from thrift shops to book cafes, clinics to transitional housing centers. Thrilled by Housing Works’ mission to eradicate AIDS from New York by 2020, she knew she had to help the organization tell its story in powerful and unconventional ways. A single email later, she was put in touch with Housing Works marketing team, who already had the perfect project in mind for our first collaboration.

Emotional Targeting

A group of superhero personas that mirror the lives of Housing Works’ HIV-positive clients, The Undetectables battle with the city’s villains, personifications of stigma, fear, apathy and denial, in their quest to reduce their viral loads and stay undetectable — all the while recruiting others to join their cause.

In collaboration with the Housing Works team and “The Undetectables” illustrator Rafa Alvarez, Lexicontent built upon the powerful story built for The Undetectables in order to create a micro-site aimed at boosting awareness of the comic, its mission, and the big-picture story behind it. This collaboration with the team behind The Undetectables led to a powerful online ‘home’ for its heroes, where they're able to illustrate how an HIV-positive person can be a hero to their family, friends, and community by committing to treatment that suppresses the HIV virus.

Beginning with a custom Emotional Targeting Workbook created for its entire marketing an executive leadership, Lexicontent began imagining and planning emotionally-connected content that readers could instantly relate to.

As we studied the Housing Works team's responses to the questions in our workbook, we learned more about the project’s diverse audience, which includes support groups, community advocates, and AIDS educators. This understanding shed light on the language the content should take on, helping us shape the site's calls to action to encourage participation and sharing.

Content Development

Once we developed the Emotional Targets for the work at hand, we started to develop content that could complement the brand of storytelling found in The Undetectables comic book. Lexicontent worked closely with Housing Works to create a content outline that covered everything readers needed to know about the story of The Undetectables and the cause they fight for.

The Home Page gave readers a taste of the comic with headlines pulled from its narrative and a short backstory about their furtive habits. Three headline calls to action on the front page keep readers’ attention by inviting them to read the comic, meet The Undetectables, and explore frequently asked questions to understand what it means to “live undetectable” and how that impacts individuals and even whole communities. We also wrote “baseball card” style biographies of each hero and villain to introduce readers to the lineup, making it easy for visitors to find an Undetectable that they can relate to.

The Undetectables FAQ section was the most intensive section of the site, covering various emotional need states, medical verbiage around viral load suppression, and community issues that focus on HIV. We worked with several leaders at Housing Works to shape this section, including doctors, clinicians, and case works that work one-on-one with patients battling AIDS daily.

Conclusion

By learning more about the questions HIV patients ask, the emotional ups-and-downs they struggle with, and inspiration they seek on their journey toward viral suppression, we were able to craft content that gives them an opportunity to see themselves in a narrative where they're able to protect those around them by caring for themselves. Our project is a small drop in the bucket towards ending AIDS as we know it, and we’re proud to tell this story of heroes who commit to living undetectable.

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