DDB’s Graphic AIDS PSAs Give Cable Nets Pause

DDB has created a pro bono campaign to push AIDS awareness among youth that may be too hot for even cable television to handle.

In the first of two 30-second spots for HIV/AIDS prevention initiative Youth AIDS, “Kit chen,” a naked teen mak es toast. Noticing his bread is burning, he tries to dislodge it with sil ver ware. A spark bursts from the toaster and the youth falls to the floor dead.

In “Shower,” a woman—first seen in silhouette—steps from the bath, dries off, then drops her towel. As she takes scissors to cut split ends, the phone rings. Hold ing the scis sors, she runs for the phone, tripping on the towel. In the next shot, she lies motionless, her arm covered in blood.

“Why do we make bad decis-ions when we’re naked?” asks onscreen text in both spots.

“These spots are meant to be very graphic, because de spite all the efforts that have been made and all the millions of dollars spent, kids aren’t getting the message,” said John Staffen, executive creative director at the New York agency.

“Because we anti cipated a harsh reaction, we’ve been careful about shopping it around,” Staffen said, noting DDB contacted MTV, the YES Network and CNN.

YES and MTV agreed to run the ads, with YES demanding changes on “Shower,” Staffen said. The network doesn’t want the silhouette part or blood shown. Representatives of YES were unavailable for comment.

A Youth AIDS rep praised DDB’s work, but said “Shower” is still being reviewed.

“We’ll do whatever we need to do to get them on the air, because the message is that important,” Staf fen said. “So if it means toning it down slightly, so be it.”

“Kitchen” broke last week; “Shower” is scheduled to air in the next week.