Viacom, Kaiser Family Foundation Launch ‘KNOW HIV/AIDS’ PSA Campaign
Media company Viacom and the Kaiser Family Foundation today launched a global media campaign, titled "KNOW HIV/AIDS," which is aimed at raising awareness of the disease through public service announcements, television and radio programming and free print and online content that is available at www.knowhivaids.org, USA Today reports. The campaign, which has a total ad placement value of $120 million, is targeted at both the general population and groups hardest hit by HIV/AIDS, such as people under age 25, minorities, women and men who have sex with men (Kornblum, USA Today, 1/6). The initiative has already created 49 television, radio and outdoor ads that will appear on Viacom's television networks CBS and UPN and 200 affiliates; cable outlets MTV, BET, VH1, CMT, MTV2, TV Land, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Showtime, TNN and Comedy Central; more than 180 Infinity radio stations; and on billboards, buses and bus shelters. The PSAs targeting the general population ask viewers to "imagine if" the AIDS crisis affected their communities to the degree it has devastated some communities and regions around the world, especially in Africa and Asia. The PSAs addressing people under 25 "weav[e] humor into empowering prevention messages," while those aimed at African Americans include statistics about the "deadly impact" of HIV/AIDS in their community. The campaign also includes PSAs in Spanish (KNOW HIV/AIDS release, 1/6).
Several television programs produced by Viacom also will include HIV/AIDS storylines in upcoming episodes. Some of the shows include "Becker," "The District," "Presidio Med," "Soul Food," "Queer as Folk, "The Parkers," and "One on One" -- which is the number-one show in African-American households. In the "One on One" episode, Flex Barnes, played by actor Flex Alexander, who lost his brother to AIDS-related illness, will be tested for HIV after his girlfriend asks him to take the test before they "consummate their relationship," USA Today reports. Alexander says, "We had 9/11, which was very tragic. But AIDS is a 9/11 every day, and we have to give it the same support." Viacom did not "send out a directive" for television programs to develop AIDS-themed shows, USA Today reports. Carl Folta, Viacom's senior vice president for philanthropic activities, said, "We made it clear that nobody had to do anything." Instead, the company, along with Kaiser, held briefings and discussions for show producers to discuss the issue (USA Today, 1/6).
UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot said, "This initiative has the power to influence behavior and save lives. It is a big step forward in the corporate response to HIV/AIDS" (KNOW HIV/AIDS release, 1/6). "This is a critical time, because the epidemic is becoming worse and worse, and the attention of the American people, understandably, is elsewhere. HIV has fallen off the radar. This is an effort to put it back on," Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman said (USA Today, 1/6). Sumner Redstone, chair and CEO of Viacom, said, "Clearly, ignorance is a direct contributor to the spread of the disease. The disease continues to spread across the planet at alarming rates, devastating people of all genders, races and ethnic backgrounds" (KNOW HIV/AIDS release, 1/6). According to USA Today, AIDS-related illnesses are the number-one killer of African Americans ages 25 to 44 in the United States. In addition, black women account for 64% of new HIV cases reported among women (USA Today, 1/6). Mel Karmazin, Viacom's president and chief operating officer, added, "Viacom's brands are cultural trendsetters like no other with strong and loyal ties to the people we're trying to reach. ... Our mission is to inform people and compel them to act -- to protect themselves, and get tested for the virus." The television, print and audio PSAs, along with more information about the initiative, are available online, or by calling the toll-free number 866-344-KNOW (KNOW HIV/AIDS release, 1/6).
PRI's "Marketplace" tonight will report on Kaiser and Viacom's PSA campaign (Brancaccio, "Marketplace," PRI, 1/6). Check local NPR station listings for show times. The full program will be archived in RealPlayer online after the broadcast.