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Ryan Fisher Case Study 20.11.08


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Ryan Fisher from Wieden and Kennedy spent a month in Recife, a city in the North East of Brazil, working to develop a communications campaign for an HIV/AIDS NGO called GTP+, with their host agency INATA. Ryan came to Recife to work with GTP+ to help to decrease discrimination amongst the population as a whole about products and food stuffs prepared by workers who are living with HIV and AIDS. The primary objective of Ryan’s placement was to create a campaign to promote the Solidarity Kitchen with a view to strengthen the activities and sustainability of GTP+.

Before Ryan arrived in Brazil he sat down and wrote a list of objectives that he was hoping he would benefit from spending a month in a completely new environment. The list included obvious things like leadership and communications skills, strategic development, cultural insight and, of course, doing some good. He’s already discovered that what he has gained far exceeds these. Not only has his experience impacted hugely on the way he perceives communications in general, but the way he views the world.

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Ryan Fisher Case Study 20.11.08

  1. 1. ryan fisher | gtp+ one month. one kitchen. lots of cake.
  2. 2. background Where: Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil Date: 1st – 31st November 2008 NGO: GTP+ ( Local Agency: INATA ( ) Objectives Strengthen the sustainability of GTP+ Reduce the discrimination of the population in general in relation to products and foods prepared by people that live with HIV. Provide balanced, nutritious meals at an accessible price to people living with HIV and AIDS. GTP+ In 2005 GTP+ set up a project called The Solidarity Kitchen. It was set up to enable the NGO to provide good free meals at lunchtime for those who are vulnerable and living with HIV and AIDS. The Kitchen is also open to the public, so it is also a really important source of funding for the NGO as a whole. To date GTP+ had not done anything to support the kitchen. A really important part of what the kitchen does is employ people who have HIV and AIDS. Giving people work, independence and the opportunity to regain their self-esteem after they have been diagnosed with HIV is hugely important. The kitchen is the perfect place for this to happen.
  3. 3. digging for the deeper insight Once the in country training was done it became very evident that the size and scale of the project was a large one. It is very rare that you get to approach a project where nothing from a communications point of view has been created before. We were starting from a blank canvas. Whilst that is a plus, we needed to dig for a greater insight into the work of GTP+ and in particular the role of the Solidarity Kitchen. I spent a couple of days trying to get my head around the bigger picture for HIV and AIDS as a whole and then specifically for GTP+. Before we could look at the background to GTP+ we needed to first consider the wider context of HIV and AIDS in Brazil. In 2007 it was estimated that there were 300,000 people living with AIDS and 600,000 living with HIV. It is estimated that 40,000-45,000 people are infected annually and 11,500 people die from HIV/AIDS related illnesses every year. Looking on a more regional level of the people with HIV and AIDS in the state of Pernambuco 79% live in Recife. Of that 67.7% are heterosexual, 16.8% are Homosexual, 13% bi-sexual and 2.3% are infected through drug use. The government in Brazil has historically been very bad at communicating people rights around HIV and the counselling and support for them has not been great. So, how does GTP+ fit into all this? GTP+ was set up to help fight for the rights of those living with HIV and AIDS whilst also supporting those who are more vulnerable. This support has been in the way of finding somewhere to stay, giving people work or simply providing regular meals in order that the anti-retroviral drugs can be as affective as possible. GTP+ have estimated that on average they have around 10 new people a month looking for support – when hospitals or other NGOs can!t help they are sent to GTP+. This support obviously comes at a cost. GTP+ has ambitions to be able to give more support in the future in the way of short term accommodation as well as providing meals. In order to do this there needs to be a stable form of income. This is where the Solidarity Kitchen fits in. Whilst the kitchen provides the beneficiaries of GTP+ with essential meals it also has the potential to provide a sustainable income for them. So, what about the kitchen? There were a few realities that I discovered having spent a day with GTP+. The reality was that week on week the kitchen was losing revenue. The costs of buying food, employing staff and providing meals for the beneficiaries was far outweighing the income from paying customers. What was interesting however, was that the kitchen was making a real profit when it worked at putting on events. The income from these events, quite often for other NGOs, was what was keeping the kitchen in operation. On the face of it the task seemed quite simple. Increased footfall equals Increased profits. However, what I quickly came to realise was that making money was only a small part of what the Solidarity Kitchen stood for and what its role was within GTP+. We spoke to the people who worked in the kitchen and also to Wladimir who runs GTP+. Although some of the emotion gets lost in translation, the stories they told about their experiences with HIV, how they had been treated and how GTP+ had played a role in rebuilding their confidence and esteem, were really moving. GTP+ provided a new family for those who needed it. They gave emotional support and could understand exactly what people are going through as all the founders of GTP+ are living with HIV also. What was also really interesting was that this was a really happy place, full of happy optimistic people, who were getting on with their lives and sticking their fingers up at those who tried to make things difficult for them.
  4. 4. living with HIV in Brazil This is a very interesting topic that has been spoken about at length during my time in Brazil. The treatment and reaction to people living with HIV is of huge contrast to the country!s relaxed attitude to race, background and cultural differentiation. Ten years ago if you were diagnosed with HIV the doctor would treat you as if you were already dead. Whilst things have moved on and peoples education of the virus has increased the treatment of those living with HIV is very different to people suffering with other illnesses. There is still an attitude that if you have HIV it is because you were living badly or you have a lifestyle that is not approved of. People are not given the support that they need and deserve. It became very clear that the way in which people who are diagnosed with HIV are treated is also not very sensitive. After you have been diagnosed the support and counselling that they need in order to plan for the future is just as essential as the drugs you need to take. People react to the news they are HIV positive in different ways. Some slip into depression and end up getting ill as they don!t look after themselves. Some turn to alcohol or drugs. Sadly some end up on the streets working as sex professionals. A big part of this is due to the reaction of the people close to them, the most important being family, friends, girlfriends or boyfriends and work. Being fired or being made homeless for having HIV is not uncommon. Add the fact that you may have a different sexual orientation and all of a sudden people get treated very badly and are outcast from society. There is very little support for them to try and find their place in society and many people can drift and do not see the point in living if they have HIV. What I found amongst the group of people who work at GTP+ was a totally different attitude to this. They are an NGO set up by people with HIV as opposed to being for people with HIV. This means that they immediately have a unique understanding of what people are going through. They understand the rejection, the depression, how it feels to be lost and also how to come out the other side with hopes and dreams of what to do with their lives.
  5. 5. who do we need to talk to? It was very clear when we approached this project that there would be different people that we needed to talk to in order to support the Solidarity Kitchen. The groups were as follows: The Public The first and most immediate is the people of Recife. We especially needed to target the people who live and work around the office of GTP+. These people are essential to the success of the kitchen as they are the people who will provide a consistent source of income for the kitchen. We needed to consider how we could contact local businesses and also how we could get people in off the street. NGOs NGO!s. These organisations will be more inclined to use the Solidarity Kitchen than elsewhere. We need to promote the understanding of the role of the kitchen and the help it provides for people. There is a market for the events that the kitchen has supplied food for. These events generate a huge amount of profit and they also provide money up-front which helps to aid cash flow. These organisations are a key source of income for the kitchen, they had provided financial relief before and could provide it on a longer term in the future. We needed to consider the best way to approach them. Other Organisations In order to raise the necessary funds to expand the kitchen to allow it to be able to cater for up to 100 people we needed to look at how we could get funding from outside organisations / funds. These organisations are key to getting the necessary up front investment to make major changes. We needed to look at contacting organisations nationally and internationally. It was also important to think about these organisations and what might motivate them to invest in the Solidarity Kitchen – are they food based? Or maybe HIV / AIDS based?
  6. 6. the campaign Due to the nature of what we were trying to communicate it became clear quite quickly that a lot of what we needed to do was very simple. With the way in which Brazil works there was no need for tv, press or radio ads. We needed to get recognition from the local community and simply let people know that the solidarity kitchen exists. We therefore worked to the following: Get The people of Recife To Visit the Solidarity Kitchen By Telling them about the kitchen and what GTP+ does in fighting for respect and Human Rights of those living with HIV and AIDS The key to the campaigns success was not only telling people about the Solidarity Kitchen but also engaging them enough to consider taking a meal there. Having spent time with the NGO and gaining a real insight into what they were like we wanted to ensure that everything we did took into consideration the things that are important to the character of GTP+ and the Solidarity Kitchen. Some of those characteristics were respect, sincerity, family and optimism. As a project we needed to look at the key elements of the Solidarity Kitchen. What makes it unique? What message can we share with people? Why should people choose it as a place for lunch over anywhere else? We therefore needed to find out what people wanted from their lunch.
  7. 7. the truth behind lunch We needed to find out peoples thoughts on lunch and also what else was out there and how they were behaving. We hit the streets in and around GTP+ to find out exactly what people looked for at lunchtime. What they normally did for lunch. How much they expected to pay. And most importantly had they heard of the Solidarity Kitchen. Here is what we found: People want to pay around R$5 for lunch. People usually take around an hour for lunch. People tend to go to the same place everyday. The majority of people had not heard of the Solidarity Kitchen.
  8. 8. the creative idea Tudo fica mais gostoso numa Cozinha Solidária (Roughly translates to: Everything tastes better at the Solidarity Kitchen.) The Solidarity Kitchen has been set up to empower and support people. It offers great home cooked food at a really good price. It provides an atmosphere that is warm and friendly and feels like being amongst a family. These were all things that we had to bring to life and we also needed to celebrate lunch. Everything we did needed to create a noise in the local community. People needed to know that it existed. We already had some obstacles in the fact that you have to walk through a gate, past a receptionist and up a flight of stairs before you know that there is a place you can get some really good home cooked food. We needed to break those barriers to entry and invite people in for lunch.
  9. 9. launch event
  10. 10. street presence In order to attract people to the kitchen it needed to have a street presence. As the kitchen is on the first floor it immediately creates a barrier to entry. With another restaurant next door this is a problem. We therefore created a sign, put a menu outside and also created a radio style spot to be played in and around the local area.
  11. 11. interior presence We looked to try and create more of a professional feel for the kitchen. We therefore created a banner, a menu for when people are queuing with the meat/fish/specials for the day, branded clothing for the chefs and name cards for the salad bar so people know what they are eating.
  12. 12. attracting the public and local businesses The flyers were a part of getting awareness out to the general public and to local businesses. To also entice local businesses to come and try The Solidarity Kitchen we sent out cakes as invites. Displaying the quality of the home cooked food and also acting a little differently.
  13. 13. flyers and posters for NGOs GTP+ and The Solidarity Kitchen already have a good awareness with local NGOs. These flyers along with simple business cards enable them to spread their message further and more easily. We also created stickers to go on all the food plates when they are delivered to the event. It is these simple things that raise the awareness and the professionalism of the kitchen. The flyers and posters were left and put up in local NGOs and hospitals. This target market will find the fact that The Kitchen helps people get back on their feet really motivating so we tailored the message more specifically to them.
  14. 14. funding from larger organisations A key part to creating more sustainability for the Kitchen was to look at getting funding from larger organisations looking to invest in a charity. We targeted organisations within Brazil and also within the rest of the world. The key for this was to create something that each organisation would receive and would not throw away. The key of the communication was to get across part of the personality and story of the Solidarity Kitchen and GTP+. We wanted this to come from the guys who work for the charity so we encouraged them to design a plate that could be painted that tells the story of the Solidarity Kitchen. By them creating themselves and it not feeling too premium and polished there is a greater chance that it will not be ignored and thrown away. We will create a plate specifically for the organisation we send it to. It becomes much more personal and less like the organisation are part of a big run of letters asking for money. GTP+ are also identifying the organisations they feel best fit with them, looking at food producers / suppliers to get a better fit the Solidarity Kitchen. This is something that is ongoing and will be used throughout the next 18 months.
  15. 15. personal outcomes Before I came to Brazil I sat down and wrote a list of objectives that I was hoping I would benefit from spending a month here. The list included obvious things like leadership and communications skills, strategic development, cultural insight and, of course, doing some good. I!ve already discovered that what I have gained far exceeds these. Not only has my experience impacted hugely on the way I perceive communications in general, but the way I view the world. Of course, a lot of this comes from being immersed in a brand new culture for a very short (very busy) period of time. It is also down to the particular kind of communications needs that an NGO in Brazil needs. But most importantly, I discovered that when your end goal is steeped in real emotion: in my case, helping human beings regain their self-esteem having been diagnosed with HIV, it!s a very long way away from helping to sell cars and pints of milk: the world I left behind at Wieden + Kennedy. The feeling of contributing to genuinely making a difference is a powerful one. The size of the task really hit home on the day when we first met GTP+. You realise quite quickly that you are helpless without the knowledge and experience of everyone else in the room, and that the only way to make the project a success is to communicate with everyone else in whatever way possible. Even my pidgin Portuguese…. The language barrier was frustrating. Only having a small knowledge of Portuguese to work with makes it extremely hard at times to share a point of view. However, one thing that I have taken from this is the importance of language and how it can be taken for granted. It is only when you want to express your emotion or share a subjective insight that you realise how important the emotional parts of a language can be and the kind of effect they can have on communications and ultimately relationships. One of the most moving parts of the experience for me was hearing the stories of the people who set up and work at GTP+. Hearing how a lady only found out she had HIV when her baby passed away, or how your life partner died in your arms in the early 90s whilst on the way to the hospital because the ambulance didn!t see the importance of looking after someone with AIDS or even working with someone who has AIDS but has had to have 16 operations to help strengthen the bones in certain parts of his body. It is incredibly humbling and the most inspiring thing is that they don!t feel sorry for themselves. They are getting on with their lives and fighting to help those who may have lost their way. It does a huge job at putting things in perspective. Living with a family in a poor part of the city also puts you in at the deep end, in the middle of real Brazilian culture. You are not observing it from a luxury high rise apartment, you are living and breathing it everyday. In the short time you are there you see the best and the worst of both worlds, two worlds that are so different it is remarkable that they exist so close to one another.
  16. 16. TIE is a unique scheme for those who contribute to it, and those who benefit from it. It forces you to feel uncomfortable, to have to so quickly embrace a new culture, to open your eyes to new problems and think differently about solving them. Waking up each morning not really knowing what will happen or what will be thrown at you is initially un-nerving but ultimately gives you a real buzz and sense of achievement. Having an "open brief! but with a world of expectation and responsibility on your shoulders is frightening, but also really exciting. The immediacy of how quickly you can make an impact is incredible, how quickly things can happen and how easily you can apply yourself and do some good. What you take away from participating in a project with TIE is 1,000-fold: you achieve much, much more than you could ever learn taking a comms course in the UK or working in everyday communications. I would recommend the experience to anyone. I!d also highly recommend the cake. Ryan Fisher Wieden + Kennedy