Filed under: Amnesty International, Human Rights | Tags: Amnesty International, Burma, Human Rights
Today I finally picked up my leaving present from Mother – a signed Shepard Fairey print of Aung San Suu Kyi – which is now on my wall, above. Thank you, Mother!
And what a day to collect it, on the day she is released. It’s great news, of course – although you have to wonder why the dictatorship have released her. Certainly, it will make it easier for China (the only nation with any real influence in Burma) to keep resisting pressure to intervene.
As my old clients at Amnesty International tirelessly point out, AASK is one of 2,200 political prisoners; reports of torture and ill-treatment are rife, and the military refuses access to the Red Cross.
For her release to make any difference, AASK needs to be able to communicate with the people – and that’s where Amnesty’s brilliant Radios For Burma campaign comes in. You buy the radios, and Amnesty’s brave local activists distribute them across Burma. Freedom of information is now more important than ever. Here’s a video on how it works.
Filed under: Amnesty International, Nike Foundation | Tags: Amnesty International, BP, Nike Foundation
Thanks to Heather LeFevre (@hklefevre) for pointing out that Antidote is one year old. I only just about remember birthdays in my own family, so hardly surprising I missed this. Still, thought I’d celebrate by asking a few folk to name a campaign from the last twelve months, something that caught their attention for whatever reason. Here are some of the responses:
Heather (she who runs the Global Planner Survey) chose this Chatroulette HIV awareness campaign from Amsterdam – timely, tactical, cheap and funny:
(and if you think that’s amusing, this is hilarious – Chatroulette viral for The Last Exorcism).
Kat Clark chose Unf–k The Gulf: “It was genuinely empowering – not only allowing people to share their outrage (by passing on the video) and give money (by buying the t-shirt) but by even getting them to vote for which groups got the money”. BP must have cringed to see this on Fox News – although the spokespeople seemed a bit unprepared…
Matthias Stock from Amnesty International chose Wake Up Humans from Amnesty Belgium. At Mother we’ve talked about a similar stunt for Amnesty UK – deprive people of a simple human right, like sitting on a park bench, and see how quick they lose their apathy. It’s really heartening to see the how quick the people in this film stand up and declare “this is a democracy!”. Great idea, though the case study film drags a bit:
Ben Gallagher from Nike Foundation chose Evoke, an ARG by games designer Jane McGonnigal for the World Bank Institute. It’s “a ten week course in changing the world”, aimed at young people, and top players win scholarships and a trip so an Evoke Summit in Washington DC.
What would I choose? Depaul UK is a great homelessness charity, and they developed iHobo – a Tamagotchi-like iPhone app where you have to keep a homeless person alive. For a week was the UK’s most downloaded app it’s been downloaded 440,000+ times making it arguably the most successful charity app to date.
Not a bad crop. If you have any others then please leave a comment.
Filed under: Activism, Amnesty International, Apple, Human Rights | Tags: Amnesty International, Apple, Human Rights
“A bit of a cult” – that’s how people often describe Amnesty International. It comes up in research: Amnesty is a bit aloof, insular, closed, exclusive. Amnesty’s natural response is to move towards openness, transparency, inclusiveness – all those good modern values. Right?
But is being “a bit of a cult” is a good thing? After all, the research also shows Amnesty is a bit cool too – it’s an attractive brand. I was pondering this when I found an old article by John Grant and Alex Wipperfürth. It’s on a strange website called MindControl101 (“Access is restricted to those people who sincerely want the information.”).
The article is called Why Cults Seduce and talks about the four features of a cult – it’s ten years old, but this seems to apply in our social-media enabled world.
Cults have a closed boundary. You’re either in or out. The bigger the barrier, the more passionate the solidarity.
It’s actually not that easy getting into a cult. You can’t “walk in”. There is a definite process to joining – to becoming “one of us”. This converts people’s whole outlook.
Cults are a parallel social universe with their own rituals, relationship structures and experiences. This binds individuals to the group.
Cults program what members think and do. They have strong central ideology and leadership. This fosters alignment and clarity.
The article talks about what marketing can learn from cults, and gives Apple as an example: the brand invented it’s own customs, interfaces, rituals and principles, and even has a founder/leader-figure. The early advertising read “Macintosh. A religion, a way of life.”.
That was ten years ago, and Apple’s dreams have come true: it’s no longer a cult, but a global corporate religion. “Think Different”. Really? Apple took on the Microsoft empire, just like the cult of Christianity took on the Roman Empire – and became the Catholic Church. It’s a good lesson: stay true to your counter-culture values, and become the new mainstream.
So what about Amnesty International? The truth is, Amnesty is a bit of a cult. It has a clear ideology: to protect the human, to demand justice. It has a clear approach: ordinary people standing up for human rights. It even has the semi religious iconography. Amnesty can learn from Apple: the best way of appealing to the mainstream is to stay true to your own story – everything follows from there.
Image from Amnesty’s Protect The Human photostream.
Filed under: Activism, Amnesty International, Environment, Greenpeace, Human Rights, Plane Stupid, Politics | Tags: "critical mass", "yes men", Activism, activist, adbusters, alf, Amnesty International, Environment, Greenpeace, Human Rights, Plane Stupid
We’ve put together a sort of “gallery of activists” for discussion with our clients at Amnesty – to see who inspires us and why. The presentation is embedded below. Here are a few themes that emerge:
To be really disruptive, you need to be really creative
In a world of stunts, it takes something special to get noticed. The ingenuity of The Yes Men hoax on BBC World is a great example, wiping $2 billion dollars from Dow Chemical’s stock – pretty disruptive. Love or loathe him, some of Michael Moore‘s set-ups are bold and inventive, such as interview with Charlton Heston in Bowling For Columbine.
To have influence, plug in to mainstream culture
Plane Stupid are a great example of an organisation with the ability to get noticed through direct action, and then to engage with the mainstream press with articulate, media-friendly spokespeople. Ad Busters may feel a bit dated now, but they played an important part in fermenting the “No Logo” backlash, plugging into mainstream brand culture and subverting it beautifully.
To create change, be bold
Finally, there is sheer boldness. For example, who can argue with the bravery and brilliance of attempting to place Robert Mugabe under citizen’s arrest? Peter Tatchell is really the archetype activist, along with people like Robert Hunter from Greenpeace and Keith Mann from the ALF.
These are a some of the activist types we’ve pulled out for discussion with Amnesty next week. Any other examples?
Filed under: Activism, Amnesty International, Avaaz, collaboration, Human Rights, Mother | Tags: Activism, amnesty, Avaaz, collaboration, film, Mother
Filmmakers are taking a new approach to making films that have a positive social impact. Instead of waiting for a big commission and a distribution deal, they’re building coalitions of campaigners, NGOs, foundations, media and sometimes brands. They get their films made and their messages out.
I recently went to along to The Good Pitch, an event run by the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, and Working Films UK. The event brings together filmmakers with funders and NGOs. The list of attendees shows how much interest there is in this area right now, everyone from Amnesty and Avaaz to War On Want and UNICEF.
Interestingly, there were no brands represented, and the only agencies present were Mother and Fallon. Are we overlooking opportunities to get brands hooked up with positive social messages? The last couple of months has seen some great “good films” – here are some examples:
Age Of Stupid was released in the UK in March and had its global premier in 40+ countries last week. The film was “crowd-funded” by 220 people who donated between £500 and £35,000 and will receive a pro-rata share in any profits. There’s an extensive online campaign called Not Stupid, and the campaign’s partners include MoveOn, Greenpeace and the Copenhagen campaign TckTckTck.
End Of The Line is part of a global campaign on the impact of overfishing, and was funded by a number of environmental groups and foundations. In the UK it was promoted by Greenpeace and Waitrose, an resulted in a flurry of reversals from retailers including Pret a Manger and M&S.
New Muslim Cool follows a Puerto Rican American Muslim rapper – his clash of identities and his scrapes with the FBI. The film was funded by a range of social foundations and public bodies, and is being promoted by a large network of “community engagement partners”.
Burma VJ is about a group of young video journalists who risk their lives to expose the brutality of the regime. Funded by a coalition including Burma Campaign, the film was promoted in the UK by the Cooperative and FilmAid.
So what about getting more brands involved in projects like this? Obviously there are credibility risks involved, but the right brand could really extend the reach of a film. Here are some that spring to mind.
Vopafone provide emergency communications for Oxfam and Red Cross disaster relief – surely some compelling stories here, highlighting the work of these agencies.
Gap (like many manufacturers) struggles with guaranteeing human rights compliance of suppliers. Why not work with UNICEF to make a challenging film facing up to the realities of, e.g. child labour?
Dell could tell a good story about the human impact of its work on digital inclusion in the favellas of Brazil.
Google could work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation on a documentary about internet privacy. OK, I’ll stop here …