In recent years, marketing campaigns have been started in the UK in areas such as health promotion like anti-smoking, safety, recreational drug use, driving under the influence of alcohol, prevention of HIV/AIDS, healthy food and nutrition, physical fitness, inoculation and immunization campaigns, cancer support and screening, mental illnesses like depression, family planning and baby care, etc. Some other campaigns have aimed toward curbing indirect causes of ill-health, like “safer water, clean air, energy conservation, preservation of national parks and forests), education (e.g., literacy, stay in school ), economy (e.g., boost job skills and training, attract investors, revitalize older cities), and other issues like family violence, human rights, and racism”. (Naidoo & Wills, 2005, p.44) In these popular campaigns a combination of the best elements of the conventional approaches to social change is integrated with sophisticated design and development framework, and employs cutting-edge communications technology and new theories in commercial marketing. Through these techniques public discussions have been generated and awareness information promoted, resulting in changes in attitudes, values and behaviours of the British public. By doing so, it helps to create a climate conducive to social and behavioural change. In this vein, the campaign featuring Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein can replicate the success met by these similar public awareness campaigns. (Kotler, 2002, p.36).
The ad campaigners justified the means by pointing to the favourable end they accomplished. But, despite this success in generating greater awareness about AIDS, the campaigners will have to heed to the critics’ point of view as well. This way, they can create ad content in the future that respects people’s sentiments. As Deborah Jack of the National AIDS Trust (UK) asserts, the campaign overstates its point, is misleading and harmful. There are three main shortcomings to the campaign:
“Firstly, linking the risk of HIV infection to having sex with a mass murderer is immensely stigmatising of people living with HIV. Stigma is the great barrier to an effective response to the epidemic. It is what prevents testing, and inhibits frank discussion of HIV status and sexual risk. Secondly, the campaign is inaccurate. It makes no mention of the fact that in Europe effective treatment exists which means HIV is no longer a death sentence. People diagnosed in time can expect nowadays a near normal life-span. Thirdly, it provides no information on the posters or in the video of how to protect yourself and others from HIV infection – use a condom when having sex; do not share injecting equipment for drug use. Effective public health campaigns can sometimes use shock tactics well – but irresponsible and incredible statements only mean that in the end people stop listening.” (Jack, www.nat.org.uk, 2009)
Hence, in conclusion, notwithstanding some minor criticisms, the ad campaign is a very potent way of creating awareness about AIDS. This is true not only in Germany, but also applicable anywhere in the world, including the United Kingdom.
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