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AIDS conference in Toronto

August 20, 2006

BBC News reports on the 16th international AIDS conference in Toronto – Gates: Women key to AIDS policy

“Obviously the Aids epidemic is going to require all actors, particularly governments, to dig deep and make this a high budgetary priority,” he said, in remarks before the opening. And he said progress in the development of microbicides offered real hope to millions of people: “A woman should never need her partner’s permission to save her own life. There’s progress on these, but the pace has been too slow.”

His call was echoed by Stephen Lewis, UN special envoy on Aids in Africa: “To change the sexual behaviour of men is a question of generations. Women are dying now.”

It might not be a question of generations if the right kind of advertising is used.  Get Madison Avenue on the job.  Make men who refuse to use condoms look like the selfish little babies that they are.  Portray men who use condoms as the real grown-ups, the ones women really want to be with.  Make the ads clever and funny and use viral marketing techniques. 

In fact, that might be a pretty good alternate use of the $20m that they spent on the conference in Toronto.  (Of course, go ahead and develop the microbicides in the meantime anyway)

Categories: Advertising, business
  1. August 20, 2006 at 20:27 | #1

    First, I think this conference was money well spent.  It has created a significant amount of controversy (see the reports in thestar.com), which is a good thing.

    Second, the Madison Avenue approach, while quite valid, has one fundamental problem.  In countries where it is most needed, corrupt governments will prevent or sabotage its use.  These governments depend on keeping the poor in their place.  Education and empowerment of women are not a part of that formula.

  2. August 20, 2006 at 21:17 | #2

    You could be right about the corrupt governments.  But I fancy the advert guys could think of ways to end-run around them.  If nothing else, run ‘em in the country next door.  Borders are porous to radio waves.  You could also thread them into movies, print them on beer labels, release them on uTube.  If they’re funny enough, they’ll be unstoppable.

    By the way, check out the film, God Sleeps in Rwanda – a fascinating take on African women who have suddenly found themselves running a country after most of the men sort of, uh, killed each other off.  I thought the film would be a real downer but it left me in a hopeful frame of mind.

  3. August 20, 2006 at 21:37 | #3

    Huh – as if on cue, “The World’s Fair” posts a thought on the use of viral marketing to combat HIV: What’s up with Viral marketing? Snakes on a Plane vs HIV (Ask a Scienceblogger, sort of – EPISODE III).  Interesting discussion follows.

    Those crazy ScienceBloggers…

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