Monday, September 25, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and The Not Fabulous

This week, I'll be in New York for the following panel to which Virtualpolitik readers are -- of course -- invited:

Selling Us to Ourselves: Is Social Marketing Effective HIV Prevention?
Tuesday, September 26th 6:30 - 8:00PM
LGBT Community Center
208 West 13th Street (btwn 7th/8th aves.)
New York City
Free and open to the public

A lot of political progressives support social marketing efforts unconditionally, but I am often skeptical about using conventional advertising techniques for social change, particularly when the whole industry of commercial persuasion is so invested in certain strategies that support dominant ideologies about consumerism, gender, sexuality, and race. See here for my basic argument.

It should be a lively exchange about public rhetoric and communicative action. I will be showing many images from the HIV campaigns from other countries, such as the above images from the European blog Houtlust, as well as pictures from U.S. disease-prevention efforts, such as those archived in the Visual Culture and Public Health Posters exhibit at the National Library of Medicine. Nedra Weinreich of the social marketing blog Spare Change provides more context for the event and explains some of the controversies about HIV campaigns here. The creator of the "Stay Negative" or "Not Fabulous" campaign will also be there.

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Blogger Julia Lupton said...

My latest social marketing discovery: Target's new online bookclub, which they're promoting to kids along with their healthier happy meals. The site is beautifully designed by funky illustrator J. Otto Siebold. Still, isn't Target -- or at least the mass-marketing that Target manages to do with more style and conscience than its big box competitors -- part of the problem?

5:19 PM  
Blogger Julia Lupton said...

And what about the new HIV campaign, reported on today in the LA Times, in which the gay community has put out billboards reclaiming AIDS as a gay disease? Their slogan: Own it. End it.

HIV activists who have been working with drug users and with minority communities are chagrined. For example, many minority men engage in sex with other men but don't consider themselves gay, and meanwhile infect their female partners. These billboards will be lost on them, according to critics. Yet, HIV is on the rise in the gay community. Thoughts?

4:37 PM  
Blogger Liz Losh said...

The article in the LA Times "HIV Ads Embrace, and Stun, Audience" describes the Own It. End It. campaign designed by Better World Advertising. The head of the agency, Les Pappas, was a fellow panelist and discussed criticism of the Not Fabulous campaign as well. It was definitely a lively discussion, which was made more lively by a critical discussion of racial ideology and power dynamics in some social marketing campaigns by Kevin Trimell Jones of the Black Gay Men's Leadership Council in Philadelphia and some hard questions about the Kaiser initiative, which produced the Knowing is Beautiful campaign, by Julie Davids of CHAMP. It was also great to have Roddey Reid of UCSD in the audience, who has written about anti-smoking social marketing campaigns in several countries.

6:13 PM  

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