Top of the Mark Award Winner

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MTV's "Fight for Your Rights: Protect Yourself" emerged from this year's judging process with the highest score among campaign submissions; it was entered in the Integrated Marketing Communications category. MTV director of strategic partnerships and public affairs Jaime Uzeta said the yearlong, multifaceted effort focused solely on sexual health and cut across content, marketing and public-service announcements beginning in April 2002.

In partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, this effort sought to educate and change the behavior of young people to protect them against sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies, Uzeta explained.

Programming for the campaign included 9 Things You Need to Know Before You're Good to Go, a special detailing ways to avoid and deal with STDs last May; Dangerous Liaisons, examining the consequences of mixing drugs and alcohol with sex; True Life: I've Got Baby Mama Drama, a special that explored the real-life trials of teen parents in February 2003; the two-part Busting the Double Standard: The Guys & The Girls last April; the UrbanAID2 for LIFEbeat Concert in May 2002 and the Global World AIDS Day Concert last December; and various MTV News reports.

Uzeta estimated that PSAs coproduced by MTV and the foundation totaled 39 during the yearlong period. Those directed viewers to toll-free hotlines and Web sites for additional information. The FFYR Web site included a national database of testing facilities, a message board and topical articles.

At the grassroots level, MTV and sexual-health organizations, including the American Red Cross, hosted forums on HIV/AIDS and other sexual-health subjects. MTV also took its initiative into the schools via Cable in the Classroom.

"With one in four sexually active teens set to get an STD this year and over 50 percent of new HIV infections occuring among those under 25, there is little question that sexual-health issues hit young people the hardest," said Brian Graden, then MTV president of entertainment, in April 2002.

According to Uzeta, 700,000 young people participated in the programmer's kickoff "National Sex Quiz" at the start of the campaign in April 2002 — presented live on the cable network as well as on its Web site. Uzeta added that 800,000 young people called the hotline to request the MTV booklet "It's Your (Sex) Life: Your Guide to Safe & Responsible Sex."

Kaiser will release its own in-depth research on the effects of the campaign later this year, he added. Some of the data were compiled during periodic, random-sample surveys of hotline callers. Uzeta said that the overall campaign reached millions of young people.

Last October, Viacom announced its own 2003 global initiative, which Uzeta said was modeled to an extent on the MTV effort, "to foster HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention." The company has pledged an estimated $120 million in ad space and ad time across its many assets. (Viacom also partnered with Kaiser.)

MTV's Fight for Your Rights umbrella title dates back to 1997, with the network and Kaiser foundation having earlier teamed on similarly multifaceted, social-issue campaigns — against violence and discrimination, for example.

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