Christopher Curtis, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
CBS will air what is being called the first-ever HIV/AIDS commercial to be seen during Super Bowl Sunday programming.
Sources within CBS’s parent company, Viacom, tell the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network that the 20-second spot is expected to run in the latter half of the Super Bowl XXXVIII Pre-Game Show, when the most viewers are expected to tune in.
The public service announcement begins with a picture of a dumpster in an alley while viewers hear, “Twenty million young lives thrown away. That’s how many could contract HIV in the next few years. But it doesn’t have to be like that.”
Then the top of the dumpster is pushed open from inside and thousands of young people of all races begin climbing out. The camera pulls back to reveal an alley filled with the liberated youth and closes with “HIV is preventable. Go to KNOW HIV AIDS dot org.”
The spot’s creators claimed they are focusing on young people under 25 years old, who make up more than half of new HIV infections both in the United States and worldwide.
But Imara Jones, the director of the Initiative of HIV/AIDS at Viacom, said just because the focus is young doesn’t mean the ad’s reach is narrow.
“We’re targeting everyone with the ad,” he said.
“Because of the nature of the spot, a lot of people, including gay men, will be interested. And it will go in rotation through the various outlets of Viacom.”
Viacom owns not only CBS but also cable outlets MTV and Showtime, as well as Paramount Pictures and 185 radio stations.
The media giant teamed up with health and research group the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to create the public service announcement that kicks off the second year of the KNOW HIV/AIDS global media campaign .
The campaign includes efforts to introduce HIV/AIDS storylines into shows running on Viacom networks. For example, a Jan. 17 episode of CBS’ “The District” featured a police officer afraid to give his partner mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for fear that he will contract HIV. On Feb. 4, CBS premieres the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation “The Blackwater Lightship,” a drama on how three generations of women react when a son reveals he has AIDS.
Showtime’s “Queer as Folk,” meantime, continues to explore the impact of HIV/AIDS on the show’s characters.
Mel Karmazin, Viacom’s president, explained to the New York Times on Jan. 17 his company’s commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS: “We realized that, as a media company, we may not be able to sit at a lab and cure cancer, but we had tremendous power to educate peo