NEWS: Govt to review pounds 2.5m Aids awareness campaign

The Government is to review its pounds 2.5 million-a-year Aids campaign in the new year - a move that could force BMP DDB Needham into a fight for the account.

The Government is to review its pounds 2.5 million-a-year Aids campaign

in the new year - a move that could force BMP DDB Needham into a fight

for the account.



The rethink will follow the Department of Health’s decision on whether

the Health Education Authority should continue to handle the public

education campaign.



The department is to make its decision by next April, when

responsibility for the Aids work comes up for review following a

Government shake-up of the HEA.



BMP is resigned to a review whether or not the HEA retains the

advertising contract. The rethink was expected because BMP has held the

account since 1988, when it succeeded TBWA - the creator of the much-

criticised ‘gravestones’ television ad.



The Government will consider whether the business should be broken up

and parts of it devolved to organisations such as the Terrence Higgins

Trust.



A Department of Health report last month concluded: ‘Greater emphasis

will in future be placed on developing national and local health

promotion directed at vulnerable groups.’



However, Whitehall officials admit there could be disadvantages in

handing over parts of the campaign to outside organisations. The

sensitive nature of the subject means that ads will need to be approved

by ministers, which is bound to provoke disputes with organisations that

want hard-hitting warnings. Secondly, involving charities specialising

in HIV work may run the risk of branding the disease a ‘gay plague’,

with no relevance to the general population.



In line with the targeted approach sought by the Government, there have

been no TV ads since 1992 and the ad budget has been cut from pounds 4

million to pounds 2.5 million a year.



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