CLEVELAND ANTI-GOSSIP GROUP GOES NATIONAL

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(Sept. 4, 2001) -- Aided by Suissa Miller Chairman David Suissa, a new group is launching a campaign to nationalize a Cleveland effort to reduce gossip.

WordsCanHeal.org breaks its first media effort Thursday in Washington, and the campaign, which is backed by Hollywood stars, will run for a month, with the main aim being to ratchet down the negative rhetoric.

The campaign will initially run in a $300,000 buy in Washington on TV and in print. Celebrities will help promote events as the effort expands to other markets.

The spots show non-actors who "pledge to think more about the words I use." One print ad features a a woman telling a collegue, "I hear she got that promotion through hard work."

The group said it would like to raise $50 million for the campaign, but that it is hopeful that the effort will also air as public service announcement.

Rabbi Chaim Feld started a similar anti-gossip movement in Cleveland through Jewish organizations, but decided to take the effort national and to end its religious ties.

"The overwhelming response showed the campaign resonated," said Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi, a campaign strategist. "Verbal violence and gossip is out of control."

Mr. Suissa, who heads the board of the campaign, said he is hopeful the effort can have the same kind of long term impact on gossip as litter campaigns did on litter.

"Theoretically, imagine if a high school student took a pledge and it could reduce the instances of violence. Theoretically, it ought to reduce gossip in the workplace and result in increased production and profits," said Mr. Suissa, whose Interpublic Group of Cos.' agency is donating the creative. -- Ira Teinowitz and Alice Z. Cuneo

Copyright September 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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