Cable customers in Ventura County, Calif., will get some food for thought with their billstuffers for Home Box Office and pay-per-view this month: They will receive flyers warning them of the dangers of AIDS.
The Jones Intercable system (now owned by Comcast Corp.) has volunteered to donate its marketing expertise to the local AIDS charity, Ventura County AIDS Partnership.
The partnership-which also includes the local United Way chapter-was struck when data indicated that AIDS is on the rise in the community north of Los Angeles, especially among young Latinos.
"The demographic of this area is heavily Hispanic, and statistics show that there has been a huge rise," system public-relations manager Brian Gusdorf said. Since the system regularly communicates with customers in both English and Spanish, it decided to use its marketing expertise and resources to get the health message out.
System management wants to inform consumers that HIV and AIDS are on the rise in the heterosexual community.
"Therefore, we all need to reconsider the consequences of this disease and either abstain from sex or practice safe sex," marketing director Bill Rivas said in a prepared statement.
The stuffers look more like announcements for a bridal fair than health warnings. The copy, over the image of a bride, reads, "Every girl dreams of her wedding day-it's amazing how dreams can change."
Executives recognized that the language and topic of the mailers can be controversial, and they provided customer-service representatives with training to handle complaint calls. However, Gusdorf said, there has been no protest to date. xecutives recognized that the language and topic of the mailers can be controversial, and they provided customer-service representatives with training to handle complaint calls. However, Gusdorf said, there has been no protest to date.