Campaign: World Aids Day builds up MySpace profile

BLOG SPECIAL Taking responsibility for one's actions was the theme for last year's World Aids Day - co-ordinated by the National Aids Trust and promoted with the strapline 'you me us'.

Campaign World Aids Day 2006
Client National Aids Trust
PR team Edelman Interactive
Timescale August-December 2006
Budget Under £10,000 (supplemented with pro bono work)

The trust wanted to generate online buzz around the December event and encourage more active involvement.

To drive web users to, and actively engage with new audiences – particularly youth – through sites such as MySpace.

Strategy and Plan
Retained agency Edelman designed a virtual red ribbon (to complement the international Aids logo) as a clickable icon that supporters could ‘wear’ on their website, MySpace profile or blog.

About 7,000 people are diagnosed with the virus each year, so the team set itself a target of getting 7,000 virtual ribbons featured online.

To directly appeal to young people, a personal profile for the trust was set up on MySpace. This linked to the website so that a community of friends (who make a link between each others’ profiles) could be encouraged to support the trust and the day.

Edelman PROs searched blogs linked to the networking site to find those that mentioned Aids. These bloggers were emailed, told about the campaign and asked if they wanted to link up. Edelman then set up an official partnership with MySpace, resulting in an eight-day promotion on its homepage with a link to the World Aids Day site. The team used this platform to publish regular blog posts, quizzes and bulletins, in an effort to get people involved in the campaign.

On the day itself, the MySpace homepage was devoted to the annual event. Finally, Edelman targeted student, fashion, music, African and gay websites. It also encouraged web content editors of corporate and public sector sites to show their support.

Measurement and Evaluation
The campaign built up a supportive online community that actively promoted the virtual ribbon through personal and professional networks. Primary care trusts, gay communities, local councils, student unions and universities also got involved.

The organisations whose staff wore the ribbon included British Airways, The Body Shop, BBC, Time Out, STA Travel and London’s Camden Council. London Mayor Ken Livingstone also donned a ribbon in the run-up to, and on, the day.

A total of 765,537 people visited the official site on last year’s World Aids Day, compared with 619,697 in 2005, while more than 15,000 virtual red ribbons were ‘worn’ on blog sites.

The MySpace profile encouraged 6,000 friends to link directly to the official website. Eventually, 136 million people were estimated to have seen the MySpace page.

Beauty journalist Nadine Baggott says: ‘I put the ribbon on my website, made a link to and wrote about the campaign on my blog. It was topical as the beauty industry often gets involved with the issue of Aids and it was a good idea to make this campaign interactive.’

Second Opinion


Ged CARROLL, consultant at Waggener Edstrom’s Digital Strategies group:

Edelman has done some good, solid work in promoting World Aids Day for a number of years. As the treatment of Aids in the Western world has advanced, the perception of the disease has changed. Each passing year makes it harder to get across messages that resonate with the public.


The 2006 plan echoed strategies for previous years, with a network of red ribbon buttons showing endorsement. However, the move to take the campaign to blogs and networking sites was a logical step.

Traffic statistics reward the hard work put in. However, the quoted ‘opportunities to see’ of 136 million seems too large.

I think the campaign could have been more targeted at UK youth via community sites such as Bebo or Facebook, because MySpace does not have the audience focus of its rivals.

Secondly a friend on MySpace, at best, means a loose affiliation, rather like wearing a charity sticker after putting some change in a tin. More thought could be given to how the National Aids Trust can become more engaged with young people in future campaigns.

My final question for Edelman is this – how can the momentum be maintained beyond World Aids Day, to make lasting behavioural and societal changes?

This is the new task Edelman has set itself through the proactive targeting of bloggers.

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