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Aids Prevention PSA – 1930s style

There’s nothing like a French PSA done to tune of Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation, animated in the style of a 1930s Hollywood cartoon, to teach you a lesson about Aids prevention! We’ve come a long way from the days when Fritz The Cat was considered shocking.

Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Client: Aides
Director: Against all Odds (Niklas Rissler and Kevin Grady designed, animated and directed the film with design assistance from Johan Idesjo).
Exec producer: Josh Thorne
2D Animation: Niklas Rissler, Kevin Grady
Set Design: Johan Idesjo
Production Company: Passion Pictures
Producer: Julie Murnaghan, Jon Drawbaugh
Executive Creative Director: Erik Vervroegen
Art Director: Andre Massis
Copywriter: Eric Boyd

(Thanks, Chris Sobieniak)

  • Dave

    The animation in this piece is better than Bakshi’s Fritz the Cat , that’s for sure.

    Very entertaining, but maybe sort of a mixed message ? The joys of promiscuity made to look so fun and enticing by happy cartoon characters getting it on , but then the end message is the usual lame ” but please use a condom, protect yourself, kids” ? How many of us have found that condoms frequently fail for their intended purpose (prevention of pregnancy) , but this is talking about your life here , not just an unplanned pregnancy.

    I’m trying to imagine a similar PSA made to warn against smoking cigarettes that used 2 minutes of Hollywood glamor shots of beautiful people smoking and having so much fun doing it that it just looks like the coolest thing ever (and in the movies it sure does) then in the last 10 seconds says: ” oh yeah, we almost forgot: that looks so cool right, but don’t smoke or it’ll probably kill ya” (or even worse: if you do smoke then use filter tip cigarettes to practice “safe smoking” .)

    • Katella Gate

      I can only repeat what Dave said so well above. This flick (which is very funny) has nothing to do with AIDS prevention and everything to do with the smirky humor of watching cartoon characters fuck. The final warning warning at the end is just a dishonest fig leaf. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

      It’s not much different from what’s on the Yiff websites, only with higher production values.

    • Better than Fritz the Cat?? Blasphemy. Its like you set up your statement with any “compliment” you could find only so you don’t feel bad about having to tear it down.


      • Dave

        No, I meant that sincerely. The timing of the animation is uniformly excellent and the direction is coherent from shot to shot , so it is better than Fritz the Cat which has bizarrely uneven timing and direction (the only reason I referenced Fritz the Cat is because Jerry mentioned it in his lead in about this PSA).

        Kudos to the animation team on this piece.

        I just thought the entertainment value of the fun, bouncy animation outweighs any serious “message” they were ostensibly trying to get across. Maybe it’s meant to be all ironical post-modern like … ? Didn’t work for me.

    • My guess is he just couldn’t think of any funny ways to depict herpes or syphallis or any other STDs. (He kind of got something in there about pregnancy with that encounter with the rabbit).
      Oh well, whether the moral works or not, it was still a fun cartoon.

  • Craig


  • Goodby, Silverstien and Partners? They’re the ad agency who gave the California Milk Processor Board the most imitatable slogan ever- “Got Milk?”

  • Craig

    I think the message is one of harm reduction. When it comes to sex, humans (being biologically-driven mammals) will never stop doing it, regardless of the consequences, in my opinion. Maybe there could have been more depictions of potential consequences from unprotected sex, similar to those anti-smoking commercials that show people on their deathbeds, wheezing their last breaths of air, etc., but the producers of this cartoon decided to keep the message less heavy-handed, and that’s their choice. Will less people contract HIV as a result? Time will tell.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      They certainly didn’t want to go too far here obviously other than to show how we’re different from what a cartoon character could do in the same situation.

      Seeing this faintly reminded me of one animated PSA back in the 90’s from the Ad Council that showed a situation between two characters who were recollecting on the night before, but then became relieved when they realized they were just cartoon characters. It certainly was still trying to get the message out in the best way they saw possible without going off the deep end.

  • Clint

    That was awesome! A little strange at times, but that’s what I get with a video called “Gettin’ Tail”.

  • Isaac

    I like my early cartoon style a bit more authentic.

  • Richard Gadd

    That was a LOT of fun! Agree however that perhaps its not exactly effective at getting the message across

  • pez

    amazing! i really liked the popeye style water

  • uncle wayne

    PISS on “the message!” A true masterpiece! (I hadda watch it 4 times just to GET alll the visuals….and then a 5th JUST to view the Crank-Turner!) Alas, alas….they’ve made a movie of MY LIFE! (And as an early-30s toon!) Absolutely the utmost!!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      There’s certainly a lot of little things to spot in this. I personally liked the dog in the bar who after taking a gulp of beer raises his eye patch to see the cat go by, that was a nice little touch. Aside from the crank-turning squirrel, there’s a lot of little things in the backgrounds I don’t want to spoil here that are also a sight to behold!

  • Keegan

    What did I just watch?

    Nice animation on the cat I guess.

  • dbenson

    Another case of making something for the portfolio and not for the client.

  • I have to agree, a bit of a mixed message here. Also the story structure was just weak overall, no real progression.

    This animation is much more focused on concept and in the end also is a lot more fun visually because of it.

  • Mike Johnson

    I liked it a lot!

    Yes, the anti-Aids message isn’t particularly strong, but from an animation standpoint, it was great! I actually laughed out loud a couple of times (the fish in the bowl puffing up KILLED, dammit!)and I loved the over-the-top look of it all.

    No Fritz the Cat though. Say what you will, but the animation on Fritz was perfect for it’s time, as rough and as bleak as the story it was showing. Bakshi is a hell of an animator.

    Anyway, great post. Another example of why I love CB!

  • Adam

    It would have been nice to see various STDs slowly bloom across his nether regions as his exploits progressed.

    • Steve Gattuso

      I think this was my problem with it. No consequences shown so the message at the end feels tacked on. Bad writing sinking good animation.

  • Furry Cartoon Brew reader

    God, I never thought I’d be posting this link here… For the purposes of comparison, the same French agency that commissioned this ad, also had an animated ad last year(?) that won a Cannes Lions award for advertising. It’s similar – a minimal message (a condom) appears at the end, and the rest seems mainly there for shock value – but the animation is a tiny bit cleverer and there’s a small attempt to do a simplistic narrative. YouTube link is NSFW, of course.

    • Classic! I was going to mention the same thing.
      France has a less prudish attitute when it comes to sex.

    • I’ve seen the ad you posted! It’s great, because it actually goes to the point and is very, very graphic and NO DOUBTS are left for the viewer. (The message is “use a condom”, basically)

      Then again, our western society can’t handle taboo subjects as openly as in that NSFW ad, so I guess the “Gettin Tail” piece is good.

      I liked the animation and the message. And I agree, the cat was waaaaay to happy at the end without any consequences (I think they could have him losing one life as he went with each sex partner, and just keeping his last life… just a thought to get the idea across better).

  • That was freakin’ awesome.

  • That was funny and entertaining but all it really made me want to do is go on a sex bender. I think it kind of missed the point. At the end of the video the cat’s a hero and depicted as awesome for having multiple sex partners, and everything looks happy-go-lucky. Like, this could have been a PSA for ant-aids, promoting casual sex.

    I think the visual gags are great, I like the stylistic point of view, but in terms of the message, its taking the piss.

    However, I do see the angle that Aids has a bad stigma and needs to be demystified. I’m from South Africa and the AIDS awareness propaganda is generally stale and stultified governmental drab meh, so I think in terms of ‘style’ its a strike in the right direction, but in terms of message, total miss. Like a little footnote to a casual sex romp.

  • Tennessee

    Great Piece!

    Anyone else miffed that ANIMATORS never seem to get screen credit when commercial credits are posted?

    I am sure copyrighters deserve there due but …

    • We always wonder. You’d think at least crediting the studio involved at the opening would be nice once in a while.

      • We’ve just upadted our post giving full credit to the animators involved.

    • I was so please to see my guys getting credit on this site. We thank CB very much for this. I’ve scouted around the net for other posts of the spot and 90% of them have sort of 20 people, none of whom were any of us at againstallodds and truth be known, we did an awesome job of designing all the characters. So thank you for mentioning the ‘ANIMATORS’ for us! And thank you CB of course!

  • What in the cel?

    It should have been a cat dying horrifically in a hospital bed covered in sores and screaming in pain for 2 minutes while his friends and family look on helplessly crying… if they wanted to get the message across correctly that is.

    But regardless of the message I thought this was great.

  • Some funny stuff. Appealing characters, filthy, funny, and upbeat. I enjoyed it. Dirty 30’s type stuff is a fun contrast.

  • Mike Kazaleh

    Here’s a drawing I did that was part of the same campaign. The slogan was later added to the billboard in the last panel, and I believe it was to say “Whatever you’re into, protect yourself!” (click on the panels to view an enlarged version)

    • I can’t stop laughing at that one XD.

    • I never saw that coming, super funny!!

    • Steve Gattuso

      That’s what this short is missing. If the main character had popped out a rubber every time, then it would have been a better message.

  • Kartoonz kritik

    I feel dirty now.

  • Other than adding a few French subtitles, how was that French?

    A 2 1/2 minute PSA? Will that ever really run anywhere?

    • robocat2075 – It was produced in Great Britain for the French charity AIDES (see link in the post). We’ve heard that the spot will be broadcast on Arte in France and Germany in April.

      • It was actually produced in Stockholm, Sweden where againstallodds have their (our) offices and wicked artists! Just so that you know. Our friends at Passion Pictures represent us all over the world!!!! They’re sooooooooo freakin cool, we love them!

  • Pheslaki

    I think y’all are missing the point – a dreary, preachy, Puritanical or “scared straight” style ad campaign wouldn’t catch people’s interest at all. Look how fast the on-meth-it’s-normal campaign became the fodder for mocking memes.
    This is lively and shocking (to some), and holds your attention to the end, and puts you in a good mindset to remember the message.

  • wonk

    Very fun!

    It just needs to show an emaciated, sad ghost cat rise from the dancing happy cat after each encounter.

    • The Gee

      I considered the same thing.
      Then it dawned on me that it might send the message that the problem wasn’t him but was definitely his choice of partners. Right now, it is kind of up in the air as to which encounter–if any of them– could have been bad.

      As it is right now, it is just his behavior that could cause further problems for himself or others.

      One thing that did briefly make me laugh before it seemed wrong was the cab driver being so happy about the turn of events in the back seat.

      The dolphin though…whew. I’m almost ashamed about laughing at that one.

    • I just posted something within those lines!

      I agree, he could have kept the same happy attitude and just “losing” one life as he went and still get the idea across and without being preachy or whatever.

  • Tamara Rose

    Clever, charming and hilariously raunchy — great animation and fantastic song! Now if they would only change the campaign from AIDS prevention to encouraging pet owners to spay and neuter their animals, then this would be a perfect PSA.

  • Mister Twister



    … wow…

  • Silence Dogood

    Augh, this is basically a synopsis of the 12 Caesars. No kidding.

  • The Scarlet Pumpernickel

    That cat bears an uncanny resemblance to Mintz’s Krazy Kat… Well, it should explain Krazy’s gender bender, I guess.

  • Martin Juneau

    It reminds the Pre-Hays code in the 30’s cartoons films. Sexually upbeat.

  • BRAVO!

    …and forgive me for beating a dead horse but comparing this to Fritz the Cat is not really fair. This was a 2 minute short. Fritz was a feature length animated film.

    If you compare the ratio of good timing to bad timing of course this was much more consistent. But there were some well animated moments in Fritz:

    I think these were the best moments: (from the 3:30 to the 7:10 mark)

  • Michael F.

    I get the point but the video looked like it was just drawing cartoons porking each other for the sake of drawing cartoons porking each other.

    At least they used the Freaks and Geeks theme-I mean Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation in the video.

  • Funkybat

    I really liked the animation and the art style, it did a good job or replicating the likable elements of 1920s-30s era cartoons without including some of the more distracting errors that were part of early shorts. I kept waiting for him to get sick, or to get other partners sick. It really isn’t so much an AIDS Prevention PSA as it is a fun, raunchy little cartoon with a “Don’t Do What Donny Don’t Does” message tacked on the end.

    (For those who want to get all OCD on the tagline; while this tomcat may have “nine lives” there is such a thing as Feline AIDS, FIV. I think it’s interesting (if not ironic) that they chose to depict the one non-primate animal that’s capable of catching and spreading an AIDS-like virus. I suppose that means he couldn’t catch it from or give it to any of those other animals, though!