[this picture was taken on the shoot for the ads, check out the logo bottom right…]
I can’t get over the latest Swiss Aidshilfe campaign ad. It’s not sophisticated enough to warrant its own essay but neither is it innocuous enough to be condoned.
The first but not most important thing to point out, simply because it is not criticized often enough, is to stop using celebrities as spokespeople for something they don’t have the first clue about. Maybe this or that guy is an excellent soccer player but I don’t want him telling me jack-shit about HIV & AIDS ‘cause this dude probably doesn’t have the first clue what a retrovirus is… or Kaposi sarcoma, or whatever. Either get somebody who is affected, somehow related to the issue or an expert.
Don’t insult our intelligence by simply using somebody who is generally well-known…. Then again, that’s not how the mind of marketing whizzes works. They would be likely to blast me about “recognition value” and “primary emotional associations”, etc., they would point to the bottom-line profitability of deploying a perfectly ignorant pop celebrity to try and sell e.g. particle colliders. Touché.
Oll korrect. The main grievance? All the ads turn on the question if whether or not we would still take a televisual interest in the celebrity in question if it were known that that person had HIV or AIDS? It are the presumptions implied in this that are killing me and must be also killing a lot of other people with a brain in working order.
First of all: what the f#ck makes you think I even do watch you on TV as it stands? You are mistaken, I do not because [the reasons are legion, I’ll keep it brief] you do not interest me in any imaginable way, your show has neither concept nor entertainment value, I’d rather play sports myself than watch somebody else do it on the screen, etc.
Secondly, say I would actually take an interest in your show or mass medial presence, are you not trying to imply that I, the person looking at this ad right now, your face framed in formless black, that I would NOT be watching you IF I knew that you are HIV positive? Why else would you ask? So basically, for no particular reason, you are addressing everybody in the public space who bothers to read your ad as potential ignorami with an anti-HIV&AIDS bias? Nice. Nobody would deny that there might still be a lot of people, statistically speaking, who do have such a bias but to make it the basic premise of your ad and then use it as an implicit reproach is a whole different kettle of fish. It’s a kettle you can keep for yourself.
Third. Since one of the attributes that still fits present society pretty perfectly is “spectacle hungry” then if any particular celebrity would indeed come out as HIV&AIDS positive that person would find themselves swamped in a media-attention tidal wave, no doubt. They’d have microphones and cameras stuck in their faces 24/7, asking them about the specifics of how and who and why and since when, endlessly. They would be most likely to become MORE FAMOUS, as was demonstrated so clearly by a certain German Lady of once-upon-a-time, short term pop-music success, whose currency sky-rocketed after it became known that not only is she positive but she has also been infecting others [which is a sad joke, to blame a STD infection on one person, in this allegedly enlightened day and age].
So the question on those ads should not be: what would I, the user of public transport do but what would the out-of-control mass media do? And subsequently what would the different corporate puppet programme directors do? Would they think that you being HIV-positive is likely to increase viewers/readers? Probably so. All other questions are carefully disguised cynicism, nothing much more.
Saddest of all, they don’t give HIV&AIDS the face it deserves, that of the afflicted person, either broken and sick or perhaps still optimistic and living positively. So this ad, despite its many faces, ironically, is a loss of face in the deeper sense.
[And but so anyway, Johan Djourou (Fussballer), Stephan Eicher (Musiker), Lara Gut (Skirennfahrerin), Stress (Rapper), Sandra Studer (TV-Moderatorin) and Xenia Tchoumitcheva (Model) in case any of you guys is somehow in/directly affected by the epidemic, I’d be glad to find out in which ways. What can you tell us? Actually, Xenia, don’t bother, it’s ok.]
[post#100, the magic of numbers, ha]