HUNDREDS of people have been fooled by a hilarious spoof documentary which features a squad of sex disease sniffer dogs raiding a nightclub.
The big-budget mockumentary was filmed in locations including Windsor – close to the Royal residence and Eton College – and features the fictional STI Detection Unit.
The film was funded and put online as part of a viral advertising campaign by a company which makes home testing kits for sexually-transmitted infections.
But the company has revealed that many of the tens of thousands of people who watched Sniffers thought it was real.
The mockumentary – which was professionally written, filmed and acted – shows the squad bursting into a nightclub as panicked “suspects” hide in the toilets.
Party-goers suspected of catching something they shouldn’t have are quizzed in the street before being led to a STI van.
The video, which has racked up over 50,000 views on YouTube, ends with the suggestion that you “check your privates in private” by using a £50 at-home Confidante test kit.
The steely-jawed agents manage to keep a straight face throughout the hilarious film. The dogs, donning ‘STI Detection Unit’ vests, perform their tasks with gusto and remain focused on the job at hand.
The video also shows the dogs in training at the equivalent of a SWAT ‘killhouse’ – in the form of a makeshift bar named Pavlov’s – where they are taught to track down specific smells.
The combination of serious acting and elaborate sets has resulted in many viewers believing the video is genuine.
Connor Christopher said: “It’s funny, I never thought a dog could sniff out an STI.”
Pa Cornelly asked: “Have your dogs sniffed out many? Just curious.”
Matthew Hefford added: “I love these dogs, they’re so clever.”
Sexual health charity FPA have applauded the timing and effectiveness of the advertising campaign.
Natika Hall, director of health and wellbeing, said: “This has clearly created something of a talking point around STI’s, which is particularly important in the run up to Christmas and New Year parties as we know people are less likely to think of infections after they have been drinking.
“If you have sex without a condom then you are at risk of getting an STI, and not everyone who has an infection has signs or symptoms – so it’s possible to pass it on without realising.”
Last year there were approximately 450,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections in England alone. The most common of these were chlamydia and genital warts.
Randox Health, the company which provides the kits, explained that their goal was to use humour to engage with their audience. They have even enlisted the help of an up-and-coming comedian to run their social media channels over the next few months.
Marketing manager Chris Henry said: “We believe this campaign communicates the shock of being exposed in public, but with humour and in a way that people can engage with without feeling they are publicly declaring they have an STI.”
The idea that trained sniffer dogs are able to detect STIs is not as far fetched as it sounds. Dogs have had some success in detecting early symptoms of cancer, some with a diagnostic accuracy as high as 93%.
Mark Evans, digital strategy director at Langland – the company which provided the advertising – said: “We decided to take a bit of a risk by introducing humour to the campaign, but we hope it turns out to be a risk worth taking. We wanted something that people would talk about, and this has definitely got people interested.
“It hooks people in and gets them talking about sexual health – something which people usually don’t like talking about.”
Andrew Spurgeon, executive creative director at Langland said: “Showing how uncomfortable it could be to be publicly exposed harbouring an infection by the STI Detection Unit perfectly demonstrates the benefits of testing discreetly at home with Confidante.”