Today the world’s top tweeters are sacrificing their digital lives to give real life to others affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India. The list is a who’s who’s of social media heavy hitters including Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Khloe Karshasian, Jay Sean, Swizz Beatz, Serena Williams, The Buried Life, Elijah Wood, Janelle Monae, Kimberly Cole, Daphne Guinness and Bronson, each of whom are signing off from all social networking platforms including Twitter and Facebook in support of those in Africa & India affected by HIV/AIDS. They’ll come back online once $1 million has been collectively raised for KCA.
The campaign is a great example of the powerful role that brands can play in social transformation. In this case the brands are celebrities who are today directing fans to their personal page at www.buylife.org, where their “last tweet & testament” video is posted. From there, fans can either donate directly online or text the first name of the celebrity they wish to support (example ALICIA) to 90999 in order to donate $10 to KCA.
Alicia, her fellow celebrity “fatalities,” and the KCA brand are not alone in their support of World AIDS Day. Yesterday HP announced that it will partner with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to provide critical HIV treatement to infants in Kenya with a goal of cutting diagnosis response times from several months to just one or two days.
In a world of corporate mistrust and finger-pointing, brands often don’t get the credit they deserve for such meaningful work. The same is true of partner ad agencies. Many commentators, myself included, have been critical of the sluggish adoption and application of social media by advertising agencies in service of their clients. But there are inspiring exceptions to the rule. The DIGITAL DEATH campaign was conceived by TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York and Lisa Topol, the agency’s Group Creative Director, explains the thinking behind it:
“We see celebrities use their name and image all the time to help charities. But in this case just saying they care wasn’t enough. For the digital death campaign, we asked celebrities to make an actual sacrifice. And we were happy, perhaps even a little surprised, that so many of them stepped up. For them, Twitter and Facebook isn’t just a fun pastime. It’s a serious way to stay connected to fans. Withholding tweets and updates, even for a few days, is significant, but they realized just how much their social networks can create real awareness and immediate action.”
DIGITAL DEATH follows on the heels of the launch of KCA’s BUY LIFE initiative, also created by the agency, a technologically advanced brand platform that launched on October 1st following the seventh annual Black Ball in NY. The BUY LIFE ads featured Katie Holmes, Usher, Jay Sean, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Alicia Keys, Jaden and Willow Smith, Serena Williams, Swizz Beatz and others wearing t-shirts with scan-able bar codes, which smart phone users could use to donate to KCA.
As such today is cause for great optimism and action. Celebrity brands like Alicia Keys and friends, corporate brands like HP, advertising brands like TBWA/Chiat/Day, and social change mainstays like the Clinton Global Initiative, are directly improving the lives of children affected by AIDS. What’s more, they are providing a powerful example to other brands in their categories.
So now it’s our turn. This is our chance to show our support for infants with AIDs and for brands taking the issue head-on but visiting www.buylife.org and donating to your favorite celebrity. Guaranteed everyone will feel better, yourself included.