HIV commercial ko’ed

In the City by the Bay, almost anything goes. Unless you’re talking about TV ads.

Better World Advertising, the social marketing agency that is helping the San Francisco Department of Public Health promote a message of HIV prevention, is seething after its TV spot was rejected by KGO-TV, the city’s ABC affiliate.

The “HIV Stops With Me” ad, which does not feature any chain saw-wielding killers or female Nike athletes, was to air during The Rosie O’Donnell Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show—daytime programs that count a good number of gay men among their viewers. But the spot, which shows HIV-positive men and transgenders talking about their illness, was apparently unsuitable for airing on KGO before 10 p.m.

“This is outrageous,” fumes Les Pappas, president of the San Francisco agency. “We have every right to buy the airtime to run this commercial. KGO should be helping us get this important prevention message out. … There certainly isn’t anything offensive or improper in this commercial. These TV stations show all kinds of violent and explicit programs, and at the same time they won’t show a well-crafted, important HIV prevention commercial.”

The agency, which has done work for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Home Care Companions, among other clients, says the ad has also been rejected for time slots at other Bay Area stations. KGO officials could not be reached for comment by press time. Michele limina/afp/newscomphoto discchuck gonzales