• Based on an ethnographic study of the production and reception of HIV/AIDS public service campaigns by MTV and Viacom, this paper examines the role of branding in HIV/AIDS education promotion. A main premise of the paper is that audiences for HIV/AIDS social marketing campaigns are now less addressed in terms of the classic HIV/AIDS prevention categories of ‘general public’ and ‘risk groups’ and are increasingly viewed as ‘market segments’ implicated in the campaigns in relation to the techniques of branding. Drawing on examples from research conducted amongst audiences in the North of England, the findings highlight the differing audience understandings of the branded consumer objects and icons of HIV awareness. Using a cultural materialist perspective, concerned with the relationship between the campaigns and social relations, this paper examines the process of corporate-sponsored HIV/AIDS campaigns. The findings underscore how social marketing campaigns are increasingly being related to as branded media objects and icons, closely tied to people's material experience and understandings of the aesthetics framing these branded objects and icons. The paper argues that identification and engagement with the campaigns is most evident amongst participants who shared the consumer values and the marketing discourses used by marketing managers and producers of the public service announcements.

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