Michigan Rep. Criticizes CDC Ads

WASHINGTON — The latest government ad contract to be questioned by a lawmaker is the Centers for Disease Control’s $125 million youth media campaign to promote healthy lifestyles. Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich., has sent a letter to the CDC criticizing ad placement on the African American portion of the campaign.

PFI Marketing in New York handles African American creative. Circulation Experti in Hartsdale, N.Y., does African American media.

The CDC spends about $7 million annually on African American outreach. Kilpatrick is concerned the national media buys on UPN, Nickelodeon and MTV, among others, are not reaching Detroit youth who listen to or watch black owned and operated media.

“It is important that the messages not only reach the intended audience, but also influence a change in behavior,” Kilpatrick wrote CDC director Julie Gerberding, adding that she did not want to see a repeat of “the unfortunate mistakes that occurred with the Office of National Drug Control Policy advertising campaign and the U.S. Army advertising campaign.”

African American cable network BET is not part of the national buy, although the CDC said it has bought time on BET in local markets. Louis Carr, BET president of broadcast advertising, said he has complained to the CDC and is awaiting a response.

“BET is more of an adult-oriented [network],” said PFI representative Adrianne Smith. “The experts we hired to do this assured us this provided us the best reach for this audience,” said CDC rep Mike Greenwell about PFI’s media strategy.

Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi in New York handles the general-market creative account.