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Request for Proposals- 'Party n Play' project


The Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH) is an Ontario network made up of front-line workers, researchers, public health, policy makers and community members. Our work aims to respond to the sexual health needs of Ontario’s diverse communities of cisgender and transgender gay, bisexual, queer, 2-Spirit and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). This includes the development of resources and production of social marketing campaigns, with the aim to reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. We also seek to improve the overall health and well-being of both HIV positive and negative GBMSM in Ontario. Our work aspires to effectively assist those working with gay men in maximizing their efforts to ensure that gay and bisexual men in our communities enjoy healthy, full sexual and emotional lives.


In the last 10 years, biomedical research around HIV testing, transmission and prevention has grown significantly. There is now a much better knowledge of the biological factors that change HIV risk, such as viral load, acute HIV infection, sexually transmitted infections and more.

Advancements in the biomedical knowledge of HIV have provided the scientific basis for the development of new HIV prevention technologies, such as non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis (nPEP), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the use of treatment as prevention (undetectable viral load). This has led to the adoption of behavioral strategies to reduce the risk of HIV transmission (see Undetectable = Untransmissible by Prevention Access Campaign), such as serosorting and strategic positioning, particularly among gay and bisexual men.

In January 2017, the GMSH launched The Sex You Want (www.thesexyouwant.ca) to great success and acclaim from communities of gay men, health care providers and advocates across the world.  This resource sought to provide gay men with information on HIV testing, prevention, treatment that was sex positive, evidence informed, and affirming of all the ways gay men are utilizing sexual health strategies to maintain their health. It is a cornerstone of our work and an essential resource for gay men and people working in gay men’s health and the provincial HIV response.

In some global jurisdictions, notably London (UK), it has been noted that the use of drugs to enhance sex (known in the European context as chemsex, in North America as “party n play”) is undermining sexual health promotion efforts. Over the past 2 years a significant amount of press (both gay and mainstream media) have covered the perceived causes, key issues and outcomes associated with Chemsex.

A myriad of social and systemic factors drive substance use and associated risks among gay men. Thirty years of research has pointed to overlapping syndemics that have an additive effect on individual’s HIV risk and treatment outcomes. These syndemics include: anxiety, depression, childhood sexual abuse and the use of party drugs. ‘Party n Play’ is at the intersection of a needed sexual health, mental health/wellness and harm reduction response. Using drugs to enhance sex can be a means of coping with past traumas and minority stress, but also serves a range of social purposes including reduced isolation and social bonding. Sexual adventure, desire, pleasure and experimentation are important motivators that also need consideration.

The GMSH wishes to develop and implement a community grounded, progressive health promotion initiative in a manner that is engaging, innovative, interactive and provides accessible information on sex, drugs, harm reduction and available supports.


  • Quickly changing and evolving HIV epidemic among cisgender and transgender gay, bisexual, queer, and other men-who-have-sex-with- men
  • Stable rates of new HIV infections among gay men in Ontario while other high income countries report steep declines
  • New GMSH strategic plan that emphasizes tailored campaigns and resources for different sub-communities of gay men (ie: gay men who use drugs)
  • A new provincial HIV/AIDS Strategy by the Ministry of Health & Long-term Care
  • Research data that suggests HIV positive gay and bisexual men who use drugs are not as adherent to antiretroviral medications. This has implications for their health and increases the risk of onward transmission
  • Emerging understandings of the sexual transmission of HCV especially among HIV positive gay men
  • Dual stigmas associated with both gay identity/sex and substance use
  • Rise of mobile apps to facilitate easier access to sex and party drugs
  • Theories and models on gay men’s health (syndemics, social drivers, etc.)
  • Evolving landscape of HIV/STI treatment, testing, prevention and sexual cultures


GBMSM and service providers who work with them in community-based and public health settings, and other settings where gay men’s sexual health promotion and HIV treatment/prevention happens. In addition, our hope is that this campaign can impart knowledge and tools that can be used within the mental health and addictions sector.


  • Guys of all statuses (positive, negative, undiagnosed, negative on PrEP, positive undetectable)
  • Guys who have anal sex;
  • Guys who use drugs to enhance sex (primarily using party drugs like crystal meth, GHB)
  • Guys who are not aware of harm reduction practices (ie: safer injecting practices)
  • Guys who don’t know where to turn to for support if they decide to make changes regarding their substance use
  • Guys who are seeking clarification about risk, options, tools and strategies to maintain their health
  • Sexually adventurous guys who enjoy anonymous sex, group sex, bareback (condomless) sex and other kinks (fisting, watersports, BDSM ect).
  • Guys who use mobile apps and hook up sites to seek sex and drugs


We are looking for a creative agency to support the development of a multi-faceted, highly visible campaign for gbMSM across Ontario. The campaign is scheduled to launch in Fall 2018 and run for up to one year. Our hope is that it will become a recognized “go to” site for GBMSM who are seeking information and support around sex and substance using behavior. Several communities (ranging from large urban centers such as Toronto and Ottawa to smaller northern communities such as Sudbury) will be participating. The work will be guided by a small advisory group that includes: clinicians, community members, researchers and policy makers.

We are looking for an agency to undertake creative development of the campaign, including the construction of an engaging, interactive website and product/marketing design to drive guys to the site. We are interested in exploring new and innovative means of social marketing, particularly the use of the internet as a means of reaching GBMSM and connecting them in real time to services.

The selected agency will work under the direction of the GMSH Acting Director and GMSH Knowledge Facilitator, who will be their primary contact. In addition, the agency must be prepared to participate in quarterly meetings of the GMSH Alliance network.   Participation with the GMSH network is a vital means of ensuring that the design agency remains cognizant of the values, principles and approaches necessary to effectively target a variety of gay men on issues of relevance to their sexuality and cultures.


The successful agency will be responsible for developing all campaign elements under the direction of the GMSH with feedback from the GMSH Alliance and project advisory team. Campaign materials will also need to be adapted into French. (A number of participating agencies within our network have a specific mandate to serve identified racialized communities and these organizations will have specific requirements related to the cultural relevance of campaign creative and modalities).

In addition, the creative will need to be developed in a way that allows for its usage across Ontario. This could mean generating different creative images for smaller and rural/northern communities, or a single creative that would appeal to all markets.


It is our expectation that the successful agency for our project will exhibit the following qualities:

  • An understanding of how our needs may differ from traditional marketing approaches geared to attract consumers to purchase a product;
  • An openness to hearing our critical feedback on the creative concepts developed and a willingness to adapt the creative to fit within our value-base and approach to the GBMSM we are wanting to reach; the need to ensure the creative and sex-positive messaging affirms gay men, their sexuality, identity, their community and their diversity
  • An ability to engage in complex discussions on intersecting forms of oppression as it relates to gender identity, race, ability, geography;
  • A willingness to have a GMSH representative attend your team’s conversations and meetings related to creative, key messaging, and concept development.
  • Provide clear timelines and critical paths so that deadlines are met and consultation is conducted in an efficient and timely manner



Please submit a proposal that outlines:

  • How you believe your agency would be a good “fit” with this project;
  • Your understanding of key concepts in health promotion, health marketing, gay men’s sexual health and culture, discourses on HIV prevention and treatment in 2017
  • Preliminary concepts for the campaign (messaging, tone, visuals, modalities);
  • Innovative ways of reaching the intended target population;
  • A clear, manageable project critical path (keeping in mind a Fall 2018 launch); the critical path should include key decision-making points that will allow our network to have the necessary input into the campaign development process.
  • A breakdown of fees for providing this service.

Please note:  You should also include samples of previous campaigns or projects that you have developed and/or web links to these campaigns or projects.

Please keep your proposal within a reasonable length (10-20 pages maximum).

We require seven (7) hard copies of your proposal.

Criteria for Selection

  • Quality of proposal;
  • One hour presentation/interview;
  • Demonstrated comprehension of the issues and needs facing gay/bisexual/MSM;
  • Organizational fit;
  • Feasible approach and work plan, given time restrictions;
  • Level of expected fees-for-service

RFP Process Timeline

By Friday October 6, 2017                         RFP sent to selected agencies/posted online

Tuesday October 31, 2017                         Deadline - Agencies submit proposals by 5 pm EST

Tuesday November 7, 2017                       1 hour presentation/interview with selection committee

By Thursday November 09, 2017             Successful agency notified of selection and must confirm acceptance within 24 hours

Week of November 13 2017                      Campaign advisory meeting in Toronto

January 15/16, 2018                                   GMSH quarterly alliance meeting


All questions should be directed to Dane Griffiths, Acting Director, Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance, at 416-364-4555 ext 315 or dgriffiths@gmsh.ca 

Submission Deadline

Proposal submissions are due on Tuesday October 31 2017 by 5:00 pm EST. Late submissions will not be accepted under any circumstance.


Your proposals should be couriered to:

Dane Griffiths

Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance

C/o The Ontario AIDS Network

296 Jarvis Street, Suite 5

Toronto ON   M5B 2C5      

Couriers must be received before the specified deadline. If you wish, you can also deliver your proposals in person at any point prior to the specified deadline.

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