Friday, December 02, 2005

AIDS Ad War! Kramer, Krim v. Sullivan, Petrelis

Yesterday was World AIDS Day and a big ad blitz was unveiled in New York proclaiming "We All Have AIDS."

The sponsor, shoe mogul Kenneth Cole, who is always looking for ways to get his brand name out there and increase sales, and is chairman of AmFAR board, has cranked up a mega-p.r. campaign for the ads.

But what's missing from in the press release for the blitz is any dollar figure revealing how much the entire ad strategy costs, which is why I sent the following basic questions below to p.r. consultants with Cole and his partners at the Kaiser Family Foundation and Viacom.

The queries are what any AIDS accountability and nonprofit transparency advocate would ask. Good luck trying to tell that to AIDS advocate Larry Kramer. I shared my questions with him and received a nasty reply, appended below.

My email to the p.r. people:

Rob Graham, et al.
Kaiser Family Foundation

Dear Rob,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly on the phone. Here are my questions about the Kenneth Cole/AmFAR "We all have AIDS" campaign:

1. How much money was spent designing, creating and promoting the ads? Ads with so many celebrities, politicians and activists don't come cheap these days.

2. Who paid the expenses for the campaign; Cole, AmFAR, other corporations and nonprofits?

3. When will the creators of the campaign open their books and show AIDS patients fiscal transparency for this social marketing effort? Basic financial information from the creators should be posted on the web.

4. Why the paucity of PWAs in the ad? As a person with AIDS, I surely acknowledge and owe a debt to the folks who aren't infected and in the ad, but it's kind of odd such a campaign doesn't feature more of us who are actually living with the disease.

A prompt reply is requested and much appreciated.


In a message dated 12/2/2005 6:50:01 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, Ned Weeks writes:
to michael petrelis: sometimes you are such a total asshole that i am sorry that i know you. you too often shame us all. i urge that none of the people to whom you directed you inquiry dignify it by responding. Larry Kramer

Isn't great to know how Kramer wants to end any conversation I want to have about the campaign? So much for supporting diverse AIDS patients' voices! Also happening today was an exchange between Kramer and writer Andrew Sullivan, who simply wants to know how much the campaign costs, and then a vapid reply from AmFAR founder Mathilde Krim.

From: []
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 12:12 AM
To: Mathilde Krim;
Subject: from larry kramer

i thought the ad looked terrific and have heard from people i havent heard from in ages. congratulations and thank you.

you should know that for some perverse reason (andrew is very perverse) andrew sullivan is pestering me to find out who is behind this ad and how much did it cost and aren't i shocked that all "our money" that could be used for research is being thrown away on th is etc. i told him he was stupid to make an issue of this... well here is what i answered him:

"andrew, i think you are making too much of this. if they had any sense, and kenneth cole is very smart, there is no "our" money in this. if you read that list on the website i mentioned it sounds like all were donations made for this ad specifically from corporate/business places. kenneth cole is very committed to running amfar and i gather is doing a good job bringing life into a very tired organization. mathilde is exhausted and deserves a rest and not to have you jump on them just now."

this is what he had written me:

i'm just interested in how much money that could have actually gone to research ended up in this celebrity p.r. initiative.
there is no contact email anywhere on the site.
do you have an email for someone so i could try and find out?
i think it's important to know how our AIDS money is being spent. don't you?

just be prepared. andrew is such an asshole.

xxxxlove larry

From Mathilde Krim:

Dear Larry,

Thank you for your message to Andrew Sullivan. Kenneth Cole's new "We All Have AIDS" campaign is designed to increase AIDS awareness and decrease the stigma against people with HIV/AIDS not only in the United States but worldwide, particularly among so far unreached many young people and members of the corporate world. The value of this just launched campaign cannot be measured immediately.
I also send you a copy of yesterday's press release that broadly describes the "We All Have AIDS"campaign.<

If Krim and AmFAR are so convinced we all have AIDS, why aren't more people living with the disease on the board? Out of 25 AmFAR board members, only 1 has AIDS.

My bottom line: We don't know how much money was spent on the campaign and the larger issue, at least to me, is persuading Kenneth Cole and AmFAR to open their books and provide real numbers.

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