Ad agencies join forces for AIDS

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November 28, 2006

SEVEN of the world's leading ad agencies have teamed up with MTV to produce for free a campaign to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS, using humour and controversy to attack the stigma and complacency surrounding the disease.
MTV Networks International (MTVNI) president Bill Roedy said the ads would be used across all 57 MTV channels and an additional 35 international broadcasters, aimed at a potential audience of 2 billion people.

He said the ads, which will be released on World AIDS Day on December 1, were edgy, funny and controversial in order to get the attention of young people who are bombarded by media messages every day.

"The challenge is to fight through the complacency, fatigue and stigma (of AIDS)," he said. "They're big (challenges) but we wouldn't do it if we didn't think we would make an impact. The trick is to challenge the conventional way of thinking."

The campaign is part of the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI) which was launched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2004, aiming to mobilise the media in the fight against AIDS.

Mr Roedy, who is the founding chair of the GMAI's Leadership Committee, approached Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising giant WPP, and the pair appealed to other agencies to produce adverts that raise awareness to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

In one ad, a young couple sit in a cafe chatting while images of them pointing guns at each other flash up periodically. The tagline reads: "You may not hurt someone by cheating, you may kill them. Be monogamous or at least be safe."

Mr Roedy said the 35 broadcasters had agreed to air the adverts across the US, Brazil, Europe and parts of Africa, and elsewhere. The 57 MTV channels have an estimated audience of one billion people, the company said.

The campaign will also be shown across other platforms, including mobile phones and the internet, to reach young people.

"I've never seen a greater attention or effort by the media in helping to fight this epidemic," Mr Roedy said.

"I've never seen more money being spent. That's the good news. The bad news is the numbers still continue to be just devastating."

According to the latest UN statistics, an estimated 39.5 million people are living with HIV, with 4.3 million new infections in 2006 worldwide.

The agencies that joined WPP and MTVNI are Cake, Y&R, 180 Amsterdam, Lowe Worldwide, Ogilvy & Mather, Wieden + Kennedy 12.



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