From a distance, it looks like an ordinary movie poster. Pasted to a bus shelter wall along Madrid’s central Calle Segovia, it depicts a thin child looking upward toward credits printed in that look-at-me font that film-publicity posters seemingly always use. It’s only when you get close enough to read the title credits that you realize something is amiss. “Ask Al Gore,” one passerby queried his companion. “That’s the name of a movie?”
Not exactly. It’s the name of an advertising campaign designed to get Al Gore to make another movie but not about what you think. By collecting enough signatures through www.askalgore.org , an international NGO called Action Against Hunger hopes to persuade the former Vice President turned climate-change activist to take on the issue of acute malnutrition: a remediable problem, the organization says, that each year kills 5 million children in the developing world.
No Hunger may not have the cinematic ring of An Inconvenient Truth, but its sponsors clearly hope that their appeal to Gore will do for malnutrition what his 2006 documentary did for climate change. “Gore is one of the most famous and media-savvy people on the planet,” says Juan Nonzioli, creative director of the Shackleton Group, the advertising firm that designed the campaign for Action Against Hunger. “Just as he has used that power to raise awareness about climate change, we’re asking that he use it for our campaign against hunger.”
The campaign, which was launched in fall 2008 in Madrid and will be rolled out in Paris, London, New York City and Montreal in the next few weeks, features both posters and a trailer for the as-yet-nonexistent film. But its main component is the signature drive. Thus far, more than 37,000 people have signed on to “Ask Al Gore,” including several well-known Spanish actors and writers.
Gore has yet to respond, according to Action Against Hunger. “We hope that when we launch the U.S. campaign, he’ll invite us for a meeting,” says Nonzioli. “That would be great.” But at his office in Nashville, a spokeswoman for Gore said he was currently busy with stimulus-package discussions. “They want him to put aside climate change and switch to world hunger” she asked, somewhat incredulously. Informed that the organizers hoped he would add the issue to his list of concerns, she conceded a bit. “It’s quirky, but I have to admit it’s a good idea.”
That’s what Action Against Hunger is banking on. The organization, which has offices in five countries, hopes to garner 100,000 signatures when it presents its petition to Gore this spring. But even if Gore decides to stick to climate change, the NGO says it can still claim success. “We have a strong message that this is a disease that can be treated, that we can minimize the number of malnutrition deaths. We just needed a campaign that would make people listen,” says Carmen Gayo, spokeswoman for Action Against Hunger. “And we got one.”
See pictures of Ethiopia’s famine.
Read a TIME cover story on Al Gore.