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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

06 September 2005

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor today unveiled a two-week long city-wide advertising campaign meant to alert New Yorkers to the 2005 World Summit being held at Headquarters from 14 to 16 September.

The campaign’s theme “Everyone is a Delegate” hoped to convey the message that everyone had a stake in the Summit’s outcome, he told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon. The three-day Summit, expected to be the largest-ever gathering of world leaders –- with more than 170 heads of State expected -- seeks to tackle global challenges such as poverty, human rights, terrorism and United Nations reform.

Joining Mr. Tharoor was Steven Ohler, Executive Vice-President and Executive Creative Director of McCann Erickson Worldgroup, which designed the campaign pro bono. Funding for the campaign was provided by the United Nations Foundation and the Department of Public Information.

The campaign, said Mr. Tharoor, was conceived in the spirit of, and as a tribute to the spirit of, New Yorkers. Everyone working at the United Nations was a member of the New York community. “We live amongst neighbours whose lives we are going to be disrupting a little bit. And we’d like them to know about the World Summit and what it hopes to achieve.”

He said it was a way to apologize in advance for the inevitable disruption that the presence of so many heads of State and Government would cause. It was an effort to ensure that New Yorkers know why they were being inconvenienced, as well as to ensure that they understood that serious issues were being discussed here.

The most obvious impact on the host city would be increased security, which, in turn, would mean increased traffic. “We know that gridlock is going to be the theme, for at least part of this island”, Mr. Tharoor stated.

But it was also important, he added, that New Yorkers understand that there were global issues at stake. As the campaign reiterated, “the campaign affects us all”.

Beginning 3 September, the ads would appear on 1,000 subway cars, 1,000 city buses, 250 commuter rail stations, 75 telephone kiosks, and in the arrival halls and baggage claim areas of the three local international airports. Four 30-second television spots will air on local network and cable television.

Responding to questions on the “tarnished image” of the United Nations over the past few years, Mr. Tharoor said the ad campaign had nothing to do with changing minds about what may or may not have gone wrong. “Certainly, what needs to be fixed in the Organization needs to be fixed.”

That did not detract, however, from the fact that the Summit was an extraordinary opportunity to deal with some very serious issues facing the world today, such of which had been mentioned in the ads. “This is an opportunity really to rekindle the vision for the Organization that was laid out 60 years ago by people who really saw the value of international cooperation through an institution like the United Nations.”

“And for us”, he continued, “whatever else may have gone wrong, the urgency and importance of these issues, and of addressing them through the United Nations, has not been diminished. And that for us is what the ad campaign is all about.”

Mr. Ohler said the primary objective of McCann was to do a campaign that would “get under the skin of people in New York”, not only to apologize in advance for the traffic issues and the disruptions, but also to get people to pay attention to what was going on and to get them to inform themselves on some of the issues.

In response to another question, Mr. Tharoor noted that it was a fact, which ought to be better known to New Yorkers, that the presence of the United Nations in New York contributed over $3.2 billion to the City’s economy, after deduction of unpaid parking tickets, according to the Mayor’s Office. The Organization was a major business earner for the City. At the same time, it was not felt that that was the main message to get across through the campaign.

Also, he recalled there was a similar effort, though more modestly conceived, for the 2000 Millennium Summit. That campaign, which did not use television spots, was used mainly to talk about the United Nations, and to extol it as a place where the world gathered. The current campaign was focused more on why the world was gathering and what the issues to be discussed were.

As to the total costs of the ad campaign, he said there were no costs for the creative work, as the concept and design was provided pro bono by McCann. The production costs and some of the ad space had to be paid for, the total of which amounted to $425,000. However, according to advertising experts, the overall value of the campaign was $3.5 to $4 million.

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For information media • not an official record

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