We are “This Close” to a future without polio, only the second human disease to be wiped off the face of the earth. To raise awareness and help finish the fight, Rotary launched the “World’s Biggest Commercial” on 24 October 2013, World Polio Day. All of you are familiar with the internet campaign, but do you know its effects? To date, more than 90 thousand people from 170 countries have added their image to the fight against polio… and continue to join! You can see some of the faces in this PSA.
In addition to raising awareness about Rotary and our work to End Polio Now, every person who joins the World’s Biggest Commercial can opt to have their name added to a petition urging world leaders to come together and help provide the US$5.5 billion needed to end polio forever. Participants can also make an individual donation to help make history and be part of a polio-free world. To help spur participation in the commercial, PhRMA, the largest pharmaceutical trade group in the United States, donated $50,000 to Rotary’s PolioPlus program – enough to protect more than 83,000 children against this paralyzing disease. The commercial was more than just a commercial: it became a platform to rally for polio eradication.
Many Rotarians around the world were essential to making the campaign a success – sometimes in surprising and innovative ways. RPIC Pablo Ruiz counted on the support of a local company specialized in providing small administrative services for the picture taking on busy streets as his team talked about Rotary’s polio eradication effort with a TV station, attracted by the visual appealing setup created.
In Brazil, Rotarian Roberta Lopes de Moraes, Rotary Club of Rio Claro, Brazil worked withshopping malls, schools and governmental facilities to produce events that would generate not only photos but also public outreach opportunities and media attention.
Rotaract and Interact Clubs also joined in the effort and were responsible for many successes. Some Rotaractors responded to a photo challenge created by Rotary, while others organized their own challenges. In Venezuela, they searched for journalists in radio and TV to support and participate in the campaign.
Local celebrities were also invited to join the commercial, raising the awareness of Rotary in local communities. The commercial was a perfect conversation starter for introducing our fight to end polio now and the participation generated attention when announced to the press. Many local celebrities reached out to their followers in social media, sharing their reasons to participate with their social networks. More than 150 celebrities have joined the commercial and were thus introduced to Rotary.
The campaign is wrapping up soon, at the end of June. We are “This Close” to having 100,000 participants and obtain the record title of the largest photo awareness campaign in the world. You can help by inviting others to participate and by sharing the PSA with your networks. Rotary public images coordinators especially can assist with procuring free placement opportunities for PSAs in TV and Internet, amplifying the reach of Rotary’s story. Contact email@example.com with questions.
The PSA is also available in German (https://vimeo.com/91021474) and Italian (https://vimeo.com/90997050) in addition to English.
I’m proud of Rotary, as it has played a leading role in this world’s biggest commercial. As everyone hopes, I am sure that polio will be eradicated in the near future!
Creating Awareness and Taking Action is vital to complete the ‘last inch’ in Polio eradication. Several posts in RB page of Rotary Public Image, Zone 20B highlighted ‘clergy’s support to polio vaccination in Islamic countries’. The endemic countries of Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are predominantly Islamic. During a presentation about “Rotary and Islam” in ROTA presidential meetings, in Dar es Salam 29 April 2014, I highlighted the strong support of highest Islamic leaders in Mecca to the goals of Polio Eradication.