Friday, 20 March 2015

Popstars in the Archive

Closing into the final month working on the Wellcome Trust funded HIV/AIDS project at LHSA, I have been cataloguing GD22 - The Take Care Campaign. The Take Care Campaign began in the late 1980s in response to cases of HIV and AIDS in the Edinburgh and Lothian being four times the national average, affecting mainly young heterosexual people. The Campaign was intended to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst all members of the community and involved advertising, events, and education, which were often described as ‘ground-breaking’. The Campaign took a very direct, explicate and vibrant approach to get their message across. Straight to the point promotion of safe sex was disseminated which stressed the importance for everyone to ‘Take care of themselves and encourage others to take care’. 
So what was it about the Campaign’s promotional activities that made it so effective? I turned to the Take Care Campaign Report, 1988 – 1989 (GD22/4/1/2) for more details. The Report is really useful in providing a background to the HIV/AIDS problem in Edinburgh and the need for such a Campaign. It also provides a record of the promotional activities the Campaign used to get their message across. Some of the most innovative ideas included: turning a Lothian bus pink and decorating it in the Take Care message; a banner bearing the slogan, ‘Take Care of the one you love and AIDS concerns us all’ was displayed on the railings at the top of the Mound; and the Campaign promoted the first installation of condom machines in pubs, ‘discos’, and large workplaces.

However, after I had an all singing and dancing wedding weekend, Deacon Blues ‘Dignity’ being a party favourite, coming back to work on Monday morning was a treat when I came across a signed copy of a Deacon Blue vinyl within the collection. 
Signed Deacon Blue Vinyl 'Wages Day' (GD22/10/8)
Deacon Blue were an Edinburgh based band, having their main hits in the late 1980s but who also supported the Take Care Campaign. They featured in special concerts and participated in advertising the Take Care message. They were not the only ones though! James with their famous hit ‘Sit-down’ were also advocates of the Campaign, as well as Scottish band Simple Minds. Within the collection there are some great images that illustrate how the Campaign used contemporary pop-culture to connect with the audience in which it wished to target.
James postcard advertising the Take Care Campaign (GD22/14/4/6/12)

At Deacon Blue concerts 6700 postcards which pictured the band with the lead singer wearing a pink watch, with the Take Care message, were given to fans as their tickets were checked. According to the Campaign Report, ‘The cleaners were asked to set aside the cards which were left behind. These amounted to 133, indicating a very good initial retention rate’. Similarly at a Simple Minds concert at Meadowbank, Take Care posters were produced for the event and Take Care messages were flashed on electronic scoreboards during the event.   
Deacon Blue postcard advertising the Take Care Campaign, given out at their concert (GD22/14/4/6/15)

These were just some of the innovative ways that the Take Care Campaign effectively got such an important message across during a very threatening time to health in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

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