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“It was a shocking, highly impactful but necessary campaign”: president of United Way discusses New Year’s Eve campaign

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By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

January 5, 2013 | 3 min read

As we entered into the New Year, Puerto Rico United Way launched an awareness campaign to discourage the firing of guns into the air.

In Puerto Rico, children have died in the past two years on New Year’s Eve as a result of stray bullets originated by the tradition of firing weapons into the air as part of the December 31 celebration.

Badillo Saatchi & Saatchi worked with Peurto Rico United Way to create the Children Against Bullets (Niños Contra Balas in Spanish) campaign, which featured children in huge posters in an obituary format announcing their death on December 31.

Working with police departments, posters were placed in high risk areas where the children live, “creating a commotion among the residents and generating an energy” with the aim of discouraging people from firing guns into the air. Social workers also collaborated with the agency to recruit volunteers for the campaign.

Primera Hora, a large circulation newspaper, helped launch the initiative on December 17 with interviews involving parents and the children featured in the posters. The paper continued its support on New Year’s Eve with a full page feature using the slogan Send away the Year but not the Children.

The photos, taken by photographer Reinaldo Rodríguez, also appeared in electronic billboards around the island. In addition, an extensive media tour was conducted in TV and radio programs featuring spokespersons from United Way who talked about the initiative and the problem caused by stray bullets.

Celebrities and local artists also adopted the initiative, generating an ample backing to this effort via Twitter using the hashtag #ninoscontrabalas.

Speaking on the campaign Samuel González, president of Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico (United Way), said: “It was a shocking, highly impactful but necessary campaign. We were able to do this thanks to the support of the many parents who allowed the images of their children to be used because they were tired of living in fear that their children could suffer the fate of Karla Michelle last year or Francisco the previous year, who died while they were enjoying the traditional New Year’s Eve celebration. The agency has used fear to create a dramatic, shocking and impactful message.”

“The campaign generated controversy in some segments of our society but this was good because it instigated a frank dialogue about this problem,” he added.

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