07: Executing VALOR VIP through and integrated strategy

VALOR VIP was built as an integrated, multi-channel program designed to link and/or relink men in Akwa Ibom and Cross River state to the treatment cascade, with a specific focus on the first two 95s – diagnosis through HIV testing and linkage (or relinkage) to HIV treatment and care.

Rather than using information heavy messaging, VALOR targeted men online with compelling communication appeals designed using branding and marketing best practices.

Key takeaway

Getting the creative brief right in a way that appeals to all on the team - creatives and clinical support ensures consistency across the client journey.

Key takeaway

Getting the creative brief right in a way that appeals to all on the team - creatives and clinical support ensures consistency across the client journey.

We worked to ensure the VALOR VIP brand was delivered consistently throughout all touchpoints and was sensitive to men’s needs without perpetuating negative gender norms.

Our aim was to motivate men to contact the VALOR VIP Guides and get linked to HIV testing, treatment and care, by building brand awareness, communicating the unique benefits VALOR VIP offers and inspiring men to engage with the brand.

Using social media to make initial contact, VALOR engaged targeted men who were considering HIV testing (or thinking about returning to care) in a supportive relationship with a virtual case manager, a VALOR VIP GUIDE, who could:

  • Screen men for HIV risk
  • Link men to the appropriate community-based HIV services and/or self-testing options
  • Support men through the challenge of revealing sexual contacts, partner disclosure, drug (re)initiation, and habit forming if needed 

Challenge toxic gender norms

Figure K. VALOR was delivered through a combination of digital ads, with live case managers

Over the course of eight weeks, we tested and iterated on our three initial concepts: Claim Your Valor; Enjoy Life Fully, and Keep What Matters. We were able to track which messages were more likely to drive men to contact VIP Guides through WhatsApp, as well as the number of referrals made by our VIP Guides to HIV testing and ART care programs. See the Program Results section in the full report for more details. Note: At the time of this report, the number of referrals completed has not yet been confirmed via data from the related health facilities.

Social Media Communication for VALOR VIP – 1st 95

Building on MenStar’s work and responding to insights from local focus group discussions, we chose social media as the primary channel for VALOR communication. Internet access, mobile penetration and social media use among Nigerians is high and particularly for men. Over 83% of the Nigerian population has access to the internet and among those with internet access, 99% use social media platforms. Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are the most popular social media platforms and 94% of the Nigeria population uses WhatsApp regularly.

Among all social media platforms, we learned Facebook was the most consistently used among men. We confirmed this during our initial consultations with men in the chosen LGAs. 


Figure L. Most-Used Social Media Platforms

Campaign Testing in Market 

Our original aim for market-testing was to conduct A/B ad tests for each of the three creative concepts via two rounds of testing on Facebook. We would then carefully track which creative concept performed best. We tracked and evaluated performance using two key indicators:

  1. Click through rate, number of men exposed who clicked anywhere on the ad.
  2. Clicks on the WhatsApp link to contact a VIP Guide. Our intent was that we would conduct this A/B testing of rapidly

    created prototypes through a process drawing on an HCD approach: develop sacrificial concepts, don’t get too attached, gather feedback, insight, and rapidly iterate.


Figure M. Original A/B Creative Testing Plan

For a number of reasons, we had to change our approach. Due to limitations brought on by COVID-19, we were unable to fully utilize all methods associated with the HCD framework.  

The agency took our initial concepts and developed draft ads which met Facebook’s criteria for the first two concepts: Claim Your Valor and Enjoy Life Fully. Additionally, we now had a final brand and tagline that was placed on each ad. We pretested these more refined concepts using a more traditional marketing approach – through a panel of representatives from the target audience, men in Cross River State and Akwa Ibom aged 20-34. Using WhatsApp chat, we requested feedback on the concepts to understand which of each of the concepts were preferred, whether there was language or images that were inappropriate, confusing or not locally relevant. 

For feedback on the pretested concepts, please refer to the full report.



The Boxer

Media Placement Strategy

The first round of the VALOR VIP Facebook ads was launched on September 3rd, 2020, and was originally intended to run for seven to ten days. Due to barriers in our market plan, we built two separate Facebook pages – one each for each state (Cross River and Akwa Ibom) and maintained the Facebook Nigeria page as well. For more information, along with the media buying plan, see the full report and the resource page. 


Additional Media 

We also created additional posts with captions –  these were not paid ads and were therefore not limited by Facebook’s composition requirements. These posts also enabled us to reduce the potential fatigue resulting from too much exposure to the same ad and they allowed us to continue to communicate with men who had liked our pages with additional content and information.


We placed additional Facebook posts that were not paid ads, that ran between September 3, 2020 and early December, 2020 on all three of the Facebook pages. 

For challenges and lessons learned with communication, please refer to the full report. 


Delivering on the VALOR Brand to Initiate Virtual Support through VALOR VIP Guides 

While the communication strategy and messages were being developed, VALOR worked concurrently to build its case management team – the VALOR VIP Guides.

Due to COVID-19, opportunities for initial in-person contact during which an individual would typically be referred to a case manager were limited. The VALOR VIP Guides services would be unique in that they would provide in-person support, through a virtual platform, much earlier in the cascade. This support was initiated through WhatsApp and delivered on an ongoing basis through mobile phone-based support.

RISE took deliberate steps to ensure the VIP Guides, their operating procedures, training and support were all integrated into the RISE system and in line with RISE standards of care.



Figure O. Introductory Client Flow


  • Supportive to all clients without prejudice to their service needs, gender or sexual orientation.
  • Maintain client confidentiality.
  • Ensure client autonomy in getting information and in navigating services.

The VALOR VIP Guides 

Through a consultative process, the RISE team selected existing case managers who met specific criteria. The key criteria is as follows: 

Key Characteristics for VIP Guide

  • Be empathetic.
  • Be open minded.
  • Be flexible.
  • Be patient with clients.
  • Authentic enthusiasm towards ensuring access to care especially for men.
  • Be comfortable with the use of technology.
  • Be very good at typing on a phone quickly.
  • Be caring and supportive through conversation.
  • Ability to have a natural real time conversation.
  • Be a fast and quick thinker. 
  • Be able to maintain confidentiality and privacy.
  • Good at navigating the system.

Four VALOR VIP Guides were ultimately chosen, along with two coordinators.

Through consultation with existing case managers and technical support partners, we developed a set of expectations for the VALOR VIP Guides. These expectations were crafted to ensure their activities were in-line with existing RISE service delivery protocols and project values, were guided by the policies and standards of Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and in line with the VALOR brand vision.

Key duties and responsibilities  

  • To manage the phone and respond to clients in a timely fashion
  • Ensure that the phone is always charged and on during the specified times
  • Build virtual relationships with clients to support them to access care
  • Refer clients to facilities and services that best respond to their health needs
  • Provide clients with relevant information to assist clients to access care
  • Keep updated records and reports of client engagements 
  • Ensure and maintain privacy of all client records (conversations)
  • Ensure that all data is documented properly

For operating procedures, training, implementation and challenges and lessons learned regarding the VALOR VIP Guides, please refer to the main report.