VH1 Classic announced on March 13 that it will launch its first-ever pro-social initiative geared towards raising awareness about autism. The "Rock Autism" campaign will kick off with a music star-studded public service announcement, or PSA, on April 1 to mark the start of Autism Awareness Month.
"Autism is such a devastating disorder for so many families, and its rate of prevalence is increasing at an alarming rate," said Tom Calderone, executive vice president and general manager, VH1. "VH1 Classic has dedicated itself to making an impact on autism because many of our viewers are parents who are now dealing with this issue. We've also found over the years that this disorder has touched the lives of many of the artists and musicians that we work with at VH1 Classic."
"Rock Autism" will use the influence of VH1 Classic and its connections with classic rock artists to make a measurable impact in this field by bringing awareness to the facts about autism, and by raising funds for autism organizations. The first 30-second PSA features a lineup of classic rock legends including Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Roger Daltrey of The Who, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS, Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Ronnie James Dio, and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.
The campaign will feature both on and off-air components, including public service announcements, VH1 Classic news breaks, and on-air fundraising stunts. The April launch will also include "Pay to Play," a fundraiser where viewers can go online and make a donation in exchange for VH1 Classic playing their favorite classic video. Proceeds from this element will benefit Autism Speaks. VH1 Classic previously used "Pay to Play" as a fundraiser after Hurricane Katrina to raise funds for Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian relief organization. This partnership with Mercy Corps was VH1 Classic's first public affairs effort and successfully raised over $150,000 for hurricane relief.
In addition, a website will be created at www.rockautism.vh1classic.com where viewers can access information on autism, link to autism organizations, and learn about upcoming fundraising events and auctions in conjunction with the initiative.