Cable Outlets Air AIDS Awareness PSA in Television ‘Roadblock’ on World AIDS Day
A group of approximately 100 cable television outlets on Sunday simultaneously aired the same 30-second public service announcement -- the "Madison Avenue version of a television 'roadblock'" -- to mark World AIDS Day and to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, the Wall Street Journal reports. The channels, including Lifetime, Discovery, the Food Network, and SoapNet, all aired the PSA at 7:59 p.m., garnering some "high-profile exposure" during prime-time television viewing. In addition, Viacom-owned MTV and BET joined in the roadblock but showed their own AIDS awareness spots instead of the PSA. The roadblock was meant to "force a large number of viewers to watch the commercial," according to the Journal. Steve Villano, CEO of Cable Positive, the industry AIDS action group that provided the PSA to the networks, said, "The idea was that you can't change channels to miss the message." The creative content of the commercial, titled "Kids," was sponsored by the Ad Council and the United Nations Foundation, as part of a larger campaign (O'Connell, Wall Street Journal, 12/3). The campaign, launched in November and titled "Apathy is Lethal," includes television, radio and print ads. The "Kids" ad uses portrayals of children orphaned by AIDS and includes a voice-over by actor Michael Douglas, who states that the number of children who have been orphaned by AIDS in the world -- 14 million -- is equivalent to the number of children under the age of five in the United States. The ads conclude with the tagline, "AIDS is preventable. Apathy is lethal," and encourage viewers to visit the campaign's Web site, www.apathyislethal.org (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/14). Villano said that approximately 35 million to 50 million of the 74 million cable-television households nationwide viewed the AIDS awareness PSA on Sunday. Julie Hughes, UNF outreach director, said she hopes the cable outlets and the networks will continue to show the advertisements "in coming months," according to the Journal (Wall Street Journal, 12/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.