MTV gives voice to AIDS cause

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Safe sex is the cause behind MTV’s new campaign in collaboration with Spinvox
Safe sex is the cause behind MTV’s new campaign in collaboration with Spinvox


MTV launched an inter­national cause-related marketing campaign last week encouraging youths to speak openly about sex and HIV/AIDS.


The effort is built upon Spin­Vox technology that lets con­sumers convert voice messages into digital text. Another force tapped by MTV for the cam­paign is the Causes application on Facebook, developed by Project Agape.

“We're constantly looking at different ways to reach young people and educate them about this disease,” said Georgia Arnold, SVP of social respon­sibility at MTV, in an e-mail to DMNews. “Leveraging SpinVox's unique technology in convert­ing voice messages into text and Causes' 12 million members, is another effective way for MTV to reach this demographic and encourage them to talk openly and safely about HIV/AIDS,” she continued.

Ads featuring Destiny Child's Kelly Rowland are appearing on MTV channels in several countries. The spots encourage young people to pick up the phone and talk about various sexual issues. Topics includes sex secrets, one-night stands and condoms. When they call in, callers hear Rowland's voice again. They're also asked to back up their actions with a donation to MTV's HIV and AIDS charity the Staying Alive Foundation, thereby giving the six-week campaign its name: “Stand by what you say.”

“We strongly believe that encouraging young people to speak freely and openly about sex and HIV/AIDS is critical to erasing the stigma of this dis­ease,” Arnold said. “While there is no cure, we believe that this disease is largely preventable and treatable through education and communication. SpinVox's unique technology encourages them to pick up the phone and share their experiences, advice, and concerns with each other.”

SpinVox's technology automatically turns voice messages into text and posts them to a “Stand by what you say” blog, thereby extending the conversation and encouraging people to share and debate about the topic. The company has dedi­cated telephone numbers in the US, Canada, UK, Spain, Germany, France and Ireland.

Talking on the phone produces a “much more candid, emotional outpour­ing” than Web interactions, which are often done with a lot of forethought, said James Scroggs, VP of consumer business at SpinVox.

This is why combining SpinVox's tech­nology with a social issue such as HIV/AIDScould “be powerful,” he said. In fact, by stimulating conversation about sex and HIV/AIDS, the groups involved believe that it might be possible to break down the stigma and discrimination that is often associated with the disease.

Using this method also provides a new channel of interaction with the Web. “I would like to think that people can pick up the phone and interact with the Web,” Scroggs said, adding that there's a large portion of the population that is still not comfortable with the digital space.

The Staying Alive Foundation was founded in 1998, and provides grants to youth-led organizations that raise aware­ness on a local level.

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