The United Nations is launching a two-week advertising campaign to alert New Yorkers to the upcoming World Summit. The UN message is that local residents are being inconvenienced for a good cause.
More than 170 world leaders are expected in New York next week to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations and to debate controversial reforms of the global organization.
To most New Yorkers, the summit and annual General Assembly meeting mean huge traffic jams, fewer parking spaces, and intensified security checks. In short, a slow down in the fast-paced city.
The head of the UN department of information, Shashi Tharoor, says the advertising campaign is a way to say thank you to New Yorkers and apologize for the disruption at the same time.
"The ad campaign has been conceived in the spirit of and as a tribute to the spirit of New Yorkers," said Mr Tharoor. "We live amongst neighbors whose lives we are going to be disrupting. We would like them to know about the World Summit and what it hopes to achieve. It is a way to apologize in advance for the inevitable disruption that the presence of so many heads of state and governments will cause. It is in part an effort [so] that New Yorkers know why they are being inconvenienced."
The campaign's theme, "Everyone's a Delegate," will be seen on posters placed in one-thousand subway cars and buses, at the three major metropolitan airports, at information kiosks, and on commuter trains. A series of humorous ads will also run on local television stations. Actors portraying average New Yorkers address the General Assembly on important topics, and less urgent ones, such as ways to find free parking spaces and the colorful fabric worn by some African delegates.
MC: "Now addressing the UN, Betsy Jacobson from Astoria:"
1ST VOICE: "Hi. I recently found out over one billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Something so simple. We have to fix this. By the way, I have to say I love your top. Beautiful. Is that silk?"
MC: "Now addressing the UN, Eric Williams from Queens:"
2ND VOICE: "Your honorableships, there are a lot of diseases out there that could probably be cured if we put our minds to it. I think we should. Also, I have this great idea for a flag design. I don't know if any of you are looking to switch or anything. I'll leave it up here just in case."
MC: "Everyone is a delegate at the 2005 World Summit because the outcome affects us all. Visit un.org slash summit."
Mr. Tharoor says the advertising campaign is designed to soothe tempers in advance and let New Yorkers know that the issues at stake -- poverty, development -- are worth the inconveniences.
UN officials say the level of security will be the highest ever for a UN event.