The Bhopal Medical Appeal (BMA) has taken on its first PR agency to publicise the 25th anniversary of 'the worst industrial disaster in human history'.
Bright Young Things Communications will help raise the current low public awareness levels of the Bhopal disaster in the run-up to the anniversary. It will also undertake a brand audit and help the charity put together an ongoing comms strategy for 2010. The agency will particularly focus on a younger audience to create a new generation of supporters.
The Bhopal disaster occurred on 3 December 1984, when poison gas leaked from a Union Carbide (now The Dow Chemical Company) factory in the Indian town of Bhopal. According to the BMA, 20,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure to the gas, and more than 120,000 still suffer from ailments caused by the accident and its subsequent pollution.
The BMA wants to educate young adults about the disaster and publicise the area's ongoing problems and continuing need for funds. BMA special events organiser Colin Toogood said: 'A lot of young adults weren't born when the disaster took place. Other people aren't aware there are ongoing issues such as birth defects and environmental pollution.'
Previously, the charity has raised money by taking out full-page advertisements in The Guardian, written by Man Booker Prize shortlisted author and co-founder Indra Sinha. But now Sinha is retiring, the charity is looking at other ways of raising funds. It is particularly keen to drive users to its website to donate online.
Initially Bright Young Things will work on a pro bono basis, but it may become a paid account from January.
Two weeks ago, the BMA joined with activist group The Yes Men to launch a water brand called 'B'Eaupal'. The bottles were filled with contaminated water from Bhopal. The group wanted to convey to the media the message that the disaster site has never been cleaned up and is poisoning the water supply. It took bottles to Dow's UK headquarters.
Dow responded by saying Union Carbide had settled its liability with the Indian government for £470m in 1989 before it acquired the firm, and that it has never owned or operated the site in question.