Rules of a F***buddy Campaign in New Zealand Spreads Safe Sex Message

Ending HIV – a community-focused behavior change program run by the New Zealand AIDS FoundatioRules of a f***buddy’ has launched a campaign created by DDB NZ and to reach men who have sex with men.

“As a sex-positive organization that engages individuals at high-risk of HIV, we know that we need to use language that our community uses – which means we sometimes use vocab that might make your nana blush,” said Michael Shaw, marketing, communications and fundraising manager for Ending HIV.

“We wanted to create something that was really sexy and wouldn’t get lost in the noise. We’re talking about enjoying sex as safely as possible – so we want to make sure it’s portrayed in a positive and relatable way.”


Working with DDB, Ending HIV has created a series of sexy images and paired them with rules encountered in f***buddy relationships and HIV prevention – sourced from the community.

This campaign includes posters and billboards lining the streets, banners on dating apps and promotions across social media, reaching f***buddies across Aotearoa.


Being up against significant advertising-standard challenges, an online content hub was needed to make sure the message could be shared in all its risqué glory, without asterisks or duct-tape.

“A key part of this was creating a website that would serve as the uncensored home of our content, and a way to engage the community and generate more rules – which will feed directly back into a second wave of the campaign,” said Shaw.

Why f***buddies?

According to 2018 survey data, around 30% of the men who have sex with men (MSM) surveyed said their main sexual partner was a f***buddy. Among this group, the top reason for not using prevention with these partners was trusting their partner’s HIV and STI status.

“We’re definitely not discouraging trust but are encouraging ownership of your own sexual health,” said Shaw. “Let’s be honest, your casual partner is likely not your only partner and you aren’t theirs – that’s a whole sexual network largely relying on another person knowing their sexual health status in real-time – when window periods for STI and HIV testing can confuse things.

“This campaign is a way to inspire candid conversations about negotiating HIV prevention with f***buddies, by making them a part of the rules you’re likely already setting for the relationship. So, ‘you can’t sleep over’ becomes ‘you can’t sleep over and you bring the condoms’.”

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