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Toronto Star -

AIDS walk campaign takes lighthearted approach

Charity's new public service announcement steers away from the difficult, emotionally draining aspects of HIV/AIDS to depict a cast of do-gooders undertaking various farfetched tasks.

By: Ashante Infantry Business reporter
Staff Reporter

Sep 09 2013 - Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life is getting a boost from a lighthearted campaign.

Instead of focusing on the arduous, emotional aspects of living with HIV/AIDS, the charity's new public service announcement takes a cheeky approach to fundraising.

The minute-long "For AIDS" depicts a cast of do-gooders undertaking various farfetched tasks - tanning, wearing a monocle, growing a tail - in contrast to the simplicity of walking on behalf of the disease.

The video, which also airs on TV and movie screens, has racked up nearly 12,000 YouTube views, more than five times its predecessor. The work, which encompasses print ads and radio spots, was done pro bono by TBWA\Toronto and was inspired by brainstorming session by the agency and the Walk committee.

"We call it Disruption Day. It's a strategic practice that we have here," explained TBWA Executive Creative Director Allen Oke. "We looked at all the conventions, the very serious messaging with statistics and all that, and we tried to figure out a way of disrupting that to stand apart in our messaging in a more effective way."

The annual national event, taking place at more than 40 locations between Sept. 14 and 22 this year (Sept. 22 in Toronto), has been a partnership of The Canadian AIDS Society, Positive Living Society of British Columbia and the AIDS Committee of Toronto since 2007. They raise money for programs and services that help Canadians living with HIV/AIDS.

With funding and participation having peaked around 2008 and HIV/AIDS awareness low amongst millennials, there was a need to retool their promotion, said J. J. Dayot, the Walk's corporate sponsorship and donations manager.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, women accounted for 23.8 per cent of all new HIV infections in 2011. And the patient profile is becoming more multicultural, added Dayot.

"It has recently shown no discrimination," he said. "I think there are a lot of new people, new immigrants, coming into Canada. More Caribbean people are coming in and they're infected, or maybe will get infected when they're here, because the education is not there and the support's not there."

"It might still be seen as a men's gay disease, but it's no longer that. That balance is now shifting."

Surprisingly then, of the 19 lead characters in the AIDS Walk PSA, 18 are white and only three are female.

That's because of the difficulty finding actors willing to donate their time this summer, said Oke, pointing out that two lead actors performed several roles.

"There were very pragmatic constraints," he explained. "We would have liked to have had more representation, of course. Normally, if it's a paying gig, you'll get a great wide representation of all people in Canada, but for this it's a matter of timing."

At least one Walk executive was disconcerted that the spot excluded many of the groups increasingly affected by HIV/AIDS, Dayot said

"We were not 100 per cent satisfied, but we thought it was powerful enough that this is something, should TBWA be with us next year, to be a red flag immediately in the very beginning, saying 'This is Canada . we need this to be diverse.' "


Source: Toronto Star

"Reproduced with permission - Torstar Syndication Services"

Toronto Star

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