Advocacy group ONE is gaining support for its efforts to end the critical famine in Somalia with its new PSA effort, "The F Word: Famine Is the Real Obscenity." The PSAs, which debuted last week online and on TV, have already inspired more than 200,000 people worldwide to sign the organization's petition to end famine.
"The response has been amazing," says ONE CMO Jeff Davidoff. "We're here to advocate for the poorest on the planet. We're here to be the voice for the poorest on the planet."
The PSA effort, which came together in 30 days, is designed to make people aware of the "obscenity" of tens of thousands of children dying of starvation this year. It is part of ONE's broader campaign to educate people about what they can do to help and to build support for long-term strategies to end the cycle of famine.
The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness, spread the word and educate people. "Asking you to share on Facebook or Twitter really matters," Davidoff says. "We're all about your voice, not your money. We find, particularly now, that people are so grateful to be able to contribute without donating money."
According to ONE, the drought in Somalia is the worst one the country has suffered in 60 years, causing a severe food crisis that threatens more than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa. While the drought couldn't be prevented, the famine is the result of manmade factors -- including high food prices, the political situation in Somalia and a lack of long-term agricultural investment in the region.
"More than 30,000 children have died in just three months," said ONE co-founder and U2 lead singer Bono in announcing the effort. "Mothers are forced to decide who to feed and who to let die. In 2011? That's obscene … but droughts don't have to result in famine."
The spots, created by director Jesse Dylan, feature leaders in entertainment, media and politics. In addition to Bono, participants include Somali-born singer and poet K'naan, Mike Huckabee, Michael Bloomberg, Arianna Huffington, Jenna and Barbara Bush, George Clooney, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Christy Turlington Burns, Kristin Davis, Idris Elba, Colin Farrell, Joe Jonas, Liya Kebede, Annie Lennox, Justin Long, Rob Lowe , Ewan McGregor and Evan Rachel Wood.
"[An] important part of our model is we are bipartisan," Davidoff says. "The mix of people in our spot is very intentional and represents that . What's ONE really about? It's that a group of people who normally wouldn't be together are together. The idea of the value of human life … is something we can all agree on."
The 30- and 60-second PSAs are running on digital platforms -- including YouTube, where they have pulled 500,000 views; Facebook; and Huffington Post -- and on TV outlets such as Discovery, SpikeTV, MTV and MTV2. Local versions are running in France, Germany and the U.K.
Davidoff says he believes that the PSAs will probably run through November, depending on the response and how long it takes to resolve the immediate crisis.
"We were shocked by the lack of media coverage of what was going on … in the Horn of Africa," Davidoff says. "So we said, 'If we're not that voice, who's going to do it?' "
"ONE is about justice, not charity," he says. "It's about the shared value of every human life. That's why we're here -- to bring this to people's attention and to do something about it. …Your voice together with mine together with millions of others makes a big difference."
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