Friday, June 27, 2008

Marketing Social Change...

June 27, 2008 - Marketing is the soul of society. If we aren't hearing it on the radio, watching it on TV, seeing it in an ad or on a poster - it doesn't exist, or it has gone extinct. When you turn the idiot box off at night - do you remember the program, or that really great ad with the catchy tune? The reality is, we are so bombarded by advertising that our conscious world comes to us in 30 second spots.

In the 80's there was a massive campaign giving us the facts about AIDS. HIV infection rates were skyrocketing and most people ignored the warnings because it was a "gay disease". A so called gay disease was not to be feared - after all, it wasn't going to affect most people right? The reality of HIV was marketed to the masses (is that what they mean by mass campaign?), and the stigma of HIV and AIDS began to change.

Back to our conscious coming to is in the commercial breaks... Today, we all know the basic mechanics of HIV transmission. We know that unprotected sex of any kind, and sharing needles is a no-no. It seemed as though we got the message. By 1995 the number of new infections decreased. In 2001, the numbers were on the increase again. The commercials stopped. Scarier yet, between 2001 and 2005 the number of women who acquired HIV or AIDS from unprotected sex was up drastically. Come on people, do we really need to be told by the media to keep making smart decisions? It's a good thing there are so many toothpaste commercials or maybe our teeth would fall out. It is estimated that more than 30% of those infected with HIV do not know it. Today is the day. It is National HIV Testing Day. I doubt there will be much advertising, so without being told, we may not consider the importance of being tested.

There is a disproportionate number of blacks and hispanics in North America living with HIV and AIDS, and it is now the third leading cause of death among black women. Though there has been some very questionable reasons proposed for this, it may have more to do with economics. It is possible to change this skew in the numbers, but to make that happen, we as a nation must lose our prejudices and level the economic playing field.

What would a society look like if we take colour and background out of the equation? I bet it would look a lot like Brazil. Brazil is a racially diverse country. Mixed marriages and multiracial origins is as much a part of Brazil's history as is the arrival of the Portuguese.1. In Brazil, if you identify with being white, you are likely 68% European, 33% Amerindian, and 28% African. If you identify with being black, the mix is more likely to be 67% African, 28% European, and 5% Amerindian. There is also a 'brown' in Brazil that is more like 45% African, 55% European. Ultimately, in Brazil, if you are anything - you are Brazilian. Today, Brazilians are celebrating Mixed Race Day - a celebration of the racial diversity of an entire country.

Perhaps this should be the next mass advertising campaign... get past your colour and your ancestry and celebrate. I can see the ad headlines now.... Life is short. People are People. Mix it up!

1. Ethnic mix of Brazil

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