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Usa For Africa: Display It Again, Ken

October 19, 1985|DENNIS McDOUGAL | Times Staff Writer

USA for Africa president Ken Kragen launched his fall holiday campaign this week to sell off $10 million worth of albums and singles still sitting on the shelves of America's record emporiums. He promises that the new push will be at least as spectacular and ambitious in scope as the original "We Are the World" recording session.

CBS Records, which has been selling the $8.98 all-star LP album and the $1.98 single since their release last spring, is holding $10 million that the USA for Africa Foundation had hoped to add to the $34 million that CBS has already turned over to the anti-famine organization. The $10 million is the estimated market value of the unsold records that retailers would normally begin shipping back to the manufacturer after six months on the market.

"We're going to ask retailers not to return the merchandise but to display it again for Christmas," Kragen said.

Kragen hopes to prevent retailer shipping returns with a renewed publicity drive that will keep the plight of Africa high in the consumer's mind. The idea is to get every right-thinking American family to snap up the records as Christmas gifts.

As a Thanksgiving warm-up, an hourlong prime-time CBS television special is scheduled for Nov. 19 entitled "We Are the World--A Year of Giving." There will be an MTV re-run of that special on Turkey Day itself, and a nationwide anti-hunger comic strip campaign engineered by "Doonesbury" 's Garry Trudeau, "Peanuts" 's Charles Schulz and "Steve Canyon" s Milt Caniff.

When Americans reads the funnies on Thanksgiving morning, they'll read nothing but "end hunger" comic frames, from "Garfield" to "Broom-Hilda." As part of the November promotion, 124 syndicated comic strips or cartoons will feature hunger themes.

"I've also asked every radio station in America to devote at least part of their programming to hunger on that day (Thanksgiving)," Kragen said.

But the most effective pre-Christmas commercial for USA for Africa will be announced on Tuesday at a New York City press conference. Kragen says he will reveal the biggest USA for Africa publicity stunt to date during a morning briefing at the Essex House hotel.

The event, scheduled to take place next spring, will involve no fewer than 8 million people, the multimillion dollar underwriting pledges of several major U.S corporations and--if successful--will raise as much or more than the $34 million in profits that the single and album versions of "We Are the World" have raised to date.

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