VH1, Global Fund Launch Two-Year, Multi-Million Dollar Media Partnership
Media company Viacom's cable music network VH1 and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday announced a two-year media partnership agreement to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, the New York Times reports (Ives, New York Times, 7/9). The partnership stemmed from a "company-wide commitment" by Viacom to support HIV/AIDS prevention as part of the KNOW HIV/AIDS public education campaign (Global Fund release, 7/8). KNOW HIV/AIDS, which is sponsored by Viacom and the Kaiser Family Foundation, is aimed at raising HIV/AIDS awareness through public service announcements, television and radio programming and free print and online content. The 2004 campaign includes media placements valued at more than $200 million; in 2003, the initiative created 49 television, radio and outdoor ads (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/10). VH1 will launch its initiative on July 13 by airing a series of "provocative" public service announcement commercials created with the Global Fund to encourage viewers to learn more about the epidemic (Angola Press, 7/9). The commercials will direct viewers to VH1.com/AIDS or to a special Global Fund Web site to learn more about HIV/AIDS and ways to become involved in fighting the epidemic, according to a Global Fund release (Global Fund release, 7/8). The first commercial in the series says that with AIDS, "We have found the weapon of mass destruction" (New York Times, 7/9). The 30-second commercial discusses the "overwhelming, yet often overlooked effect AIDS" has on the global community, saying that 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide and 22 million people have died from AIDS-related causes since the beginning of the epidemic, according to the release. Another PSA asks, "[W]hat if the average life expectancy in the U.S. suddenly became 33 years old, as is now he case [i]n some of the countries worst hit by the AIDS epidemic," according to the release (Global Fund release, 7/8).
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that although many people know HIV/AIDS is a "global catastrophe," they may not be aware "that we have the tools to turn the tide against the pandemic," adding, "That's why I'm so pleased that VH1 is making this substantial commitment to increase public awareness of AIDS and the fight against it." Viacom CEO and Chair Sumner Redstone said that the network, which has "the largest audience in its history, is a powerful network that connects its viewers to the heart of pop culture. Now it is utilizing that reach and influence to get the word out about HIV/AIDS and to bring the mission of the Global Fund closer to the millions of people that tune into the channel every day." VH1 President Christina Norman, who announced the partnership with Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem, said that the campaign is "dedicated to reigniting the spark of activism that, for so many adult Americans, defined their youth." Feachem said, "VH1's provocative creativity is sure to make people think differently about the AIDS crisis" (Global Fund release, 7/8).
A video webcast of a July 13 session on Media Partnerships and other coverage of the XV International AIDS Conference will be available online at www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2004.