Rotary goes digital to eradicate polio

Polio cases may have decreased worldwide by 99% since 1988, but Rotary International is set to launch an online campaign featuring the World's Biggest Commercial with the ultimate aim of completely eradicating the disease.

Organization: Rotary International
Campaign: World's Biggest Commercial
PR agency: GolinHarris
Launch: October 24

Objective: Polio cases may have decreased worldwide by 99% since 1988, but Rotary International is set to launch an online campaign featuring the World's Biggest Commercial with the ultimate aim of completely eradicating the disease. 

“We're trying to get more people to understand that polio, a disease many people think doesn't exist anymore, still threatens children around the world,” says David Alexander, acting CCO at the volunteering nonprofit. “We want people to understand that this is a historical effort, and it would be only the second disease ever eliminated in human history.”

Idea: World Polio Day, scheduled for October 24, is part of a global awareness-building initiative that Rotary International implemented for its PolioPlus program. It is one of the largest global health initiatives, according to Alexander.

Participants can add comments to the commercial at EndPolioNow.org. They will be featured alongside messages from people such as Bill Gates, Jackie Chan, Amanda Peet, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Queen Noor of Jordan.

“The purpose is to educate people about this opportunity and to get people excited to participate and be a part of history,” explains Alexander.

Tools: Rotary International is using a digital platform and relying on social media initiatives to extend the life of the commercial, adds Alexander.

“We'll work with our 1.2 million members and use our social media vehicles to connect with them and with their networks and communities to promote this opportunity,” he adds. The ad will be hosted on EndPolioNow.org.

Measurement: Rotary will gauge success by how many people contribute to the commercial, as well as the amount of times it is viewed. However, the ultimate goal is ending polio. “If we can end the disease, it's a huge win for global health,” Alexander says.

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