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Video to mark World AIDS day.

3 Dec

This is a video I saw a few months ago, but it is still incredibly moving. Its just really, really well done.



Campaign ads – the best and the worst. Part one – advocacy ads

11 Feb

In response to the Robin Hood Tax ad, which is one of the best campaigning ads I have seen for a while, I thought I would post some historically very effective political and advocacy ads. I’m also currently reading The Political Brain, by Drew Westen that looks at the role of emotions in political campaigning. It has been an eye-opening read, so this also gave me some inspiration for this post.

This list is by no means definitive and if anyone wants to send links to some campaigning ads, that would be great, I’d love to watch them.

This post will focus on a few advocacy ads, starting with the Robin Hood Tax ad that has been the focus of the media of late. It is a very simple ad, two voices, one face but plenty of emotion. Bill Nighy plays a leading banker who ends up squirming in response to the questioning about why a Tobin Tax shouldn’t be created. Squirming bankers is something that reverberates with a good portion of the public at the moment. This campaign plays to the slightly divergent emotions of good will and revenge brilliantly.

This next ad scares the heck out of me, although I’m not sure how effective it is. Shock ads, as I have written before, have the tendency to decline in effectiveness over time simply because of people being desensitized. I’m not sure anyone would be able to put themselves in this guys shoes, unless they have been in the same situation.

This shock ad from PlaneStupid, the organisation that focuses on climate change issues caused by the global aviation industry, is different from the previous one however. Shocking – yes. Disturbing – definitely. Effective – most certainly. Polar bears dropping from the sky crushing cars and smashing into buildings may seem like an odd choice, but it is actually very clever. The stance is that every person on a trans-Atlantic flight creates 400kg of carbon. Most people can’t conceptualize what that means however. A polar bear, which is also an icon of climate change devastation, is imaginable. Therefore this appeals to our sense of wanting to save these animals, horror at their gruesome deaths but it also puts our carbon footprint into a physical and understandable context. It was filmed in Canada, but it could be any city, again personalising the imagery.

The final ad is one that has screened on UK screens recently and was the subject of a number of complaints, but is far more subtle that the polar bear ad. Act on CO2 is a non-departmental government body that is the public face of the Government’s climate change policy. This ad simply shows a father telling a bed-time story to his child, but it is a story of the effects of climate change and includes drowning pets and other disturbing results of unabated climate change. But this ad is clever in the fact that it appeals on a personal level to adults and children. This ad scares children, hence the complaints, but it also contextualizes climate change for them ensuring they understand the potential of doing nothing. It also will frighten adults on a parental level – how can I let my child live in a world like this, what can I do to prevent it?

As I said, this isn’t a complete list, but it just a tester. I’d love your thoughts and if you want to send me other campaigns, feel free. I’ll post the political ad blog in the next couple of days.

Cross posted with Ruder finn Dot Comms.

Is the public option worth removing abortion rights?

8 Nov

by Nick Osborne

I’m sure you have all heard about the House of Reps in the US finally passing the Healthcare Reform Bill, which is a huge step in the right direction for the US health care system.

But, for it to get through, there has been some interesting give and take inthe back rooms of Congress. An amendment to the bill has ensured that there will be no public funding for abortion. Essentially, anyone who is recieiving health subsidies from the government will not be able to get insurance that includes provision for abortion.

Essentially, to garner one Republic vote from Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, the Democrats have seriously annoyed the pro-choice movement.

I personally am pro-choice, but I would love to know your thoughts on whether it is a good deal, especially when it hasn’t even gotten through the Senate yet.

Nick Osborne

Pneumoccocal disease in the developing world

12 Sep

The WHO haPneumo_deaths_maps recently released figures surrounding the global disease burden of pneumococcal disease and Hib, two of the leading causes of pneumonia which kills more children that AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

In 2000, 735,000 children under 5 died from pneumococcal disease which is an enormous number. There were an incredible 14.5 million cases globally.

This disease causes meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis and inner ear infections. These diseases lead to disability and death. Tragically, it is entirely preventable by vaccination.

According to the press release posted on PneumoADIP’s website, “the ten countries with the greatest number and greatest proportion of global pneumococcal cases were in Asia and Africa, and taken together account

Pneumococcal disease deaths

Pneumococcal disease deaths

for 66% of cases worldwide. These countries include India (27%), China (12%), Nigeria (5%), Pakistan (5%), Bangladesh (4%), Indonesia (3%), Ethiopia (3%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (3%), Kenya (2%) and the Philippines (2%).”

Hib, another disease that is almost completely preventable, yet in 2000, there were 363,000 deaths and 8.1 million cases.

The work of PneumoADIP, the Hib Initiative, the WHO, the GAVI Alliance and UNICEF to name but a few players has been phenomenal. Their work to get the developing world access to vaccines against this disease, in particular through the Advanced Market Commitment, has been phenomenal. Likewise, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pneumococcal Disease Prevention in the Developing World which I am involved with as secretariat has made enormous strides lifting the profile of this disease in the UK and overseas.

These figures will enable governments, for the first time, to have accurate figures actually detailing the scale of the problem. A significant reason why more hasn’t as yet been done was simply because there wasn’t enough awareness surrounding the disease and there were no accurate figures to ascertain the true breadth of the problem. However, nations will now understand the scope of the problem and be able to do something about it. These figures could make a world of difference and hopefully, it will.

When do shock campaigns go too far?

7 Sep

A series of fairly hard hitting ads with the tagline AIDS is a Mass Murderer, will be played on Germany TV and cinema screens in the lead up to World AIDS Day. The video features a couple having sex, however, at the end of ad, the male raises his head and is clearly supposed to be Hitler. A number of posters are also being produced and the imagery is again of a couple however, the male character is either Hilter, Stalin or Saddam Hussein.


AIDS has always been a focus of hard hitting ads. I don’t remember many ads from my childhood, but one that has always stuck with me is from 1987 from back home in Australia. I’ve embedded it below. It is one of the most frightening ads I’ve seen, but the message is essentially that AIDS doesn’t discriminate and it is a devastating disease that could affect anyone, so take proper precautions and don’t be naive.

That, personally, was a pretty effective ad. The Hitler one I think goes a tad too far.

I realise that AIDS doesn’t receive the same headlines as it did in the 80s and 90s and AIDS groups and advertisers have to rely on shock value to get the message across these days because unfortunately there simply isn’t enough media or public interest. This is clearly what the campaign is trying to address as first line of the website’s homepage states “Over the past number of years, public interest in AIDS has massively declined. The number of victims, however, has not. As of now, over 28 million people worldwide have died. And every day another 5,000 fatalities are added to that number. This makes AIDS one of the largest mass murderers of all time.”

But, the problem with this ad is that the message could be read by some people as – if you have AIDS, you are as bad as Hitler/Stalin/Hussein. By personifying an individual with AIDS as a mass murderer, you could be running into trouble and you enter the territory of vilifying AIDS sufferers.

I know that there are few internationally recognisable female mass murderers, but I think it is also questionable that the person transmitting AIDS in these posters are only men. I know it sounds silly, but with people thinking chicken skin, kebabs and coke can act as contraception (I know, I was stunned too), it isn’t outside of the realms of possibility that young men would think you can only catch AIDS through sex with men and you can’t catch it from a unprotected sex with a woman.

I believe the most effective campaigns are a combination of shock and education. These ads only state protect yourself. From what? Where is the advice around condoms, clean needles etc.?

This ad is clearly only about raising the issue of AIDS as a media priority and is based purely on shock value. It will, as it already has sparked debate and gained publicity, but do we need more than that? Like other shock campaigns, people will also become desensitised, then the media will move to the next story, so what is the next step for media campaigns? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Cross posted with Ruder Finn Dot Comms