End Hunger Viral Work Challenged, Praised

Good Or Bad Viral?

the now corporation and HB XIV created a site, intended to virally call attention to hunger, called For Mother's Day which included a video montage of women breastfeeding babies. The site originally linked to charitable hunger-relief organization America's Second Harvest until they complained, sending a threatening letter to Domains by Proxy, under which the now corporation had registered the site, asking the link to America's Second Harvest be removed from the For Mother's Day site. Even though the video could be seen as a bit racy by some, Hollywood actor Jeff Bridges, who runs his own hunger-relief organization called the End Hunger Network, had no problem with it and sent a complimentary note to the now corporation's president, Owen Plotkin. The For Mother's Day site now links to Bridges' End Hunger Network site and, heeding the request from America's Second Harvest, Plotkin removed that organization's link from the Mother's Day site.

Following the creation of the For Mother's Day site, Plotkin launched Paris Hilton Films, another site intended to virally spread the end hunger message. Paris Hilton Films, which features Carl's Jr. imagery of Hilton and pseudo videos, prominently features Bridges End Hunger site. Plotkin says, of these two efforts, he is simply trying to raise awareness of hunger issues. While acknowledging the racy aspects of his efforts, he doesn't understand why an organization like America's Second Harvest would want to limit exposure to its efforts.

"How can a video of breastfeeding babies 'be harmful to our public image,'" referring to the letter sent by America's Second Harvest. "It's funny because many people, women and men, have told me they thought it was 'beautiful.' This is indicative how much fear this Nation is now trembling under. It's good to know that people and activists like Jeff Bridges and The End Hunger Network are not afraid to try unorthodox ways to reach a diverse audience for the purpose of increasing awareness of domestic hunger and advocating for policies that benefit America's hungry."

Plotkin realizes the "viral police," most of whom abide by the code of transparency, which calls for complete disclosure as to who's behind viral efforts, don't approve of this sort of advertising. However, Plotkin says, "this is not advertising." He adds, "Real change can only come about with awareness, broad based awareness across all demographics. High school, college kids, Moms and Dads, CEO's, the people in the boiler rooms and behind the counters in Wal Mart and McDonalds."

Plotkin believes efforts such as these are effective and helpful in supporting worthy causes and should be done in a unique and humorous manner. Of his efforts, he says he wants to, "make them laugh, scratch their heads, smile, feel good. Reach the cynical, irony drenched kids. Reach the Nana's and Gramps'. A lot of messages, delivered in a hundred different ways. I think non profits, the concerns they raise, have to have more of a presence in our daily lives."

Some would label Plotkin's efforts brand highjacking, uninvited attention or damaging to a brand's image. Plotkin would counter the work simply strives for a greater good, saying, "we will continue to do what we can to bring awareness to this and other issues."

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (7)     File: Viral     Jun-16-05  
Advertising Jobs

Enjoy what you've read? Subscribe to Adrants Daily and receive the daily contents of this site each day along with free whitepapers.

ad:tech Conference Headlines


Good work Owen. Way to be in the Now. No matter what the critics say, if in the end, it helped bring awareness, everyone wins.


Posted by: bucky on June 16, 2005 11:55 AM

I've commented on this story before, but here it is again. The offensive action is not showing breasts in a viral. It's about slap-and-pasting someone else's brand identity on a piece of communication (you intend to use publicly) without their prior consent.

Posted by: David Burn on June 16, 2005 12:11 PM

So confused: What does PH have to do with drawing awareness to hunger, other than she desperately looks like she needs a sammich? Is that the gag? (pardon my pun)

Perhaps, are they accusing her of having "permanently impaired cognitive development" and that she "exhibit[s] anti-social behavior"?

She's not anti-social! "Demented and sad, but social"

Posted by: JoAnna on June 16, 2005 02:16 PM

I guess there will always be people who don't quite understand. But what's more troubling are those who are afraid of what they don't understand.

Fortunately, I think quite a few people do understand that appropriation, irony and activism are frequently used to created meaningful public expressions. I imagine that if your materials were canvas and paint instead of editing and marketing you would have few if any real detractors. Of course, you'd probably also reach far fewer people and be far less effective.

Nice work Owen.

Posted by: grant on June 16, 2005 04:18 PM

It has nothing to do with fear, nor lack of understanding. It has everything to do with money. Brands make an investment, however big or small. Non-profits obviously do not spend what P+G spends, but they have a brand nonetheless. Hijacking that brand--by putting someting out there that looks like an ad from the company in questio--is culture jamming of the highest order. Because we lose track of what's real and what's not. Artists and activists can laugh, as we all might, but in the end, company's will work to protect their investments in brands.

Posted by: David Burn on June 17, 2005 09:44 AM

Simply a shameless effort of self promotion on behalf of the Now Corporation around an issue without controversy. How else do a bunch of Burger King salesman create a buzz in a form of media which has passed them by.

Posted by: Pat Hetic on December 26, 2006 02:59 PM

"The sophomoric, shock-driven work is going to predominate for a while," said Owen Plotkin, president at the Now Corporation

Posted by: Zell Hout on December 26, 2006 05:01 PM

Post a comment