USA Network launches 'Characters Unite' tolerance effort

NEW YORK: USA Network launched a community and public affairs campaign promoting tolerance on January 19, tying the effort to its overall tagline "Characters Welcome."

NEW YORK: USA Network launched a community and public affairs campaign promoting tolerance on January 19, tying the effort to its overall tagline “Characters Welcome.”

Called “Characters Unite,” the campaign contains a Web site where consumers can sign a multimedia anti-intolerance pledge, on-air public-service announcements, and a Washington-based public affairs component.

"We wanted it to be themed to our overarching brand positioning, which is 'Characters Welcome,'" said Alexandra Shapiro, SVP of brand marketing and digital for USA Network. "It really is about the celebration of characters everywhere."

Facebook and MySpace applications and are also available on the site, and a discussion area is planned. The network also created an advisory board consisting of members of organizations including the American Association of People with Disabilities and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Shapiro said the network also began working with the Washington-based Podesta Group late last year to create awareness in the legislative community.

“[The network is] also trying help to change behavior, and play a role in helping to influence positive changes to legislation surrounding the issues of prejudice and intolerance," she said.

The network is also conducting broad media outreach to both general interest and trade outlets, said Shapiro, who added that the campaign will expand this year with more legislative outreach and celebrity involvement.

“This is all laying the groundwork for a much more robust initiative that we plan on unveiling in spring of 2009," she said.

USA launched the campaign on January 19 to take advantage of public sentiment for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Shapiro said.

"The reason we launched this around Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the day before the Inauguration is we wanted to take advantage of this optimism and the yearning for unity," she said, "but remind people that they need to play a part in fostering the change we hope [President Barack Obama] will accomplish."

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