Conn. Agency Fights AIDS

NEW YORK Unicef has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the AIDS impact on children via print, outdoor and TV ads from agency Outhouse Communication.

According to Unicef, more than 15 million children worldwide have been orphaned by AIDS and more than 2 million youngsters are HIV-positive, with the vast majority living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tagged “United for children. United against AIDS,” five print executions aim to show AIDS more clearly as a child’s face. TV ads have the same goal and star celebrities like actors Danny Glover and Susan Sarandon, recording artist Robbie Williams and soccer player David Beckham.

“People don’t think of AIDS as a child’s disease,” said David Chapman, director of client services and brand strategy director at Weston, Conn., independent Outhouse. “It goes beyond kids infected. It’s the teachers, the doctors, the nurses, the people in the village who raise the children who are dying.”

The campaign uses a simple blue string as a symbol for unity, tying the world together in a global effort, said Chapman. Blue strings, which are being distributed gratis worldwide, can be used in whatever way the individual wants to show support: a hair tie, necklace, on a backpack or as a shoelace. Unicef “hoodie” sweatshirts with blue hood strings will be available for purchase on www.uniteforchildren.com.

The blue strings and sweatshirts are a way to supplement limited media donations and drive the campaign virally, said Chapman.

While campaign materials have been made available in 37 countries, Unicef is relying on donated airtime. Thus far, the ads have run on a limited basis in the United States, Chapman said. While Unicef has called for networks to donate two minutes of prime time airtime each day to the campaign, “we haven’t quite seen that yet,” Chapman said.

The agency won the assignment this spring following a review that included shops from the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland. Outhouse Communications had previously worked on a multimedia campaign for Unicef to help reverse child trafficking and slavery in West Africa.

U.S. billings for the campaign were not disclosed. The agency is working with Unicef’s New York office.