RSS

Category Archives: Activism

“Sending a message” – There’s the contents and there’s the medium

Slogans or protest messages on T-shirts get stale, however funny.

Speaking of making a statement, I can’t think of a better artist who has been ‘sending a message’ than Bansky.

But when a mailman landed a gyrocopter on the Washington Mall this week it was not the message that got people’s attention, but the medium. One man in an exposed flying machine.

You know it’s creative because no one seems to be talking about the contents of the envelopes that c was supposedly carrying to the nation’s lawmakers at the Capitol. We are all focused on the delivery method, aren’t we?

Marshall McLuhan  who coined the phrase ‘the medium is the message’ must be smiling, up there. No tweets. No PR agency. No Facebook page. But a pretty powerful statement.

Note: Hughes does maintain a website, where he says

Hello – I’m Doug Hughes, a mailman, pilot and the author of this web site. In my time, I’ve delivered a lot of letters, and I’m delivering 535 letters by ‘air mail’ today – a special delivery to every member of the US Congress.

On this blog post (worth a read) he speaks of wanting to ‘change the narrative’ in Washington about whom we elect. He might succeed — if only the evening news folk will only stop talking about the potential danger of the stunt.

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Citizens’ voices matter

A few years ago I conducted a series of webinar-style workshops for the U.S. State Department, for content creators, educators, marketers and those in traditional and new media. The workshops were called  “Passport to Digital Citizenship.”

I was convinced that citizen’s voices would be valuable, and –despite technological barriers and people who would try to keep them quiet– they could be heard.

So today, as my book is about to launch, I am thrilled to see this report by CNN on the importance of citizen-driven media.

Journalism has been forever changed — I’d argue for the better — thanks to the fact that people can interact with media organizations and share their opinions, personal stories, and photos and videos of news as it happens. This year’s nominated iReports are prime examples of how participatory storytelling can positively affect the way we cover and understand the news. 

(“36 stories that prove citizen journalism matters.” By Katie Hawkins-Gaar, CNN | Wed April 3, 2013 )

When we talk of  ‘participatory journalism’ we mean that ‘CitJos’ work alongside traditional media. They are not here as a replacement model, but to complement the changing media industry. Of the 100,000 citizen stories submitted to CNNiReport.com in 2012, they used 10,789 –having vetted them first.

I just interviewed the creator of a leading citizen journalist outfit in South Asia, and he stressed the importance of community guidelines, and careful design.

Citizen journalism, and the power of citizen voices is a big section in my book, Chat Republic.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Hippies or hipsters protesting? Is it the seventies all over again?

‘Peace through protest’ may sound the flavor of the month, or at least the theme of 2011, considering that peaceful uprisings overturned dictators during the so-called Arab Sprint.

But it reality, this is just the old recipe, delivered to our table on new tableware.

I watched a History Channel documentary on Nixon last night, and just seeing the short powerful segments when they cut away to the anti-Vietnam movement across the country made me realize this. You could cut-and-paste the present protest on Wall Street. Except for the bandanas and peace tattoos of the seventies, the similarities are striking.

People are fed up with their politicians (81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed; confidence in Congress has dropped). They believe that the best way to send them a message is to show up on the street with hand-painted signs and chants.

OK, so we do have web sites, Twitter hash tags (#occupywallstreet) and Facebook, but it is easy to give too much credit to the mechanical tools of movements.

  • It does help when Salman Rusdie helps out with a tweet.
  • It does help when there is speculation that the Nobel peace prize this year may recognize Arab activists.
The revolution will not be televised.   But just watching the images, and the live stream makes you wonder if the hipsters have taken notes from their predecessors.
But what does this kind of speech, and technique forebode? Watch!

 

Tags: , ,

Once upon a tree –powerful outdoor activism

What does this look like?

Sure, a dead tree. But what did it give up its life for? Hint: It’s part of an outdoor campaign for forest conservation in China.

You’ll never rip open a pack of chopsticks again, just to play with it in a restaurant.

I just can’t resist campaigns like this where words become unnecessary. The trees were made from 80,000 pairs of used chopsticks, and ‘planted’ in public squares.

However if you prefer words, interactive outdoor is so much more powerful than some of the boring, static billboards we see around town for business schools, restaurants, movies.  Check this out: passers by are encouraged to text in their message, and watch as the words get changed to display it.

 

Tags:

Think local, buy local, says Park&Co

You’ve probably seen how some cities (like this and this) have attempted to rein in local dollars and boost their economies with campaigns for buying local. We have our own push here with Local First Arizona, a non-profit group promoting your support of locally owned businesses throughout the state.

But apart from this move to nurture small businesses such as nurseries, nail parlors and ethnic restaurants, there is a lot of money moving out in terms of … advertising. Park & Co have put together a microsite featuring nine agencies (apart from Park&Co), with a push that urges companies to rethink where they s(p)end their dollars.

“You buy local produce, seek out locally owned stores, and drink local wines. So why go to other markets like L.A. for your advertising? Phoenix agencies offer a wealth of talent, from brand strategy and development to internationally award-winning creative, as well as innovative interactive campaigns and Hollywood-caliber film and video production. And you don’t have to look far.”

Park and CoAs Time magazine once put it, the buy-local trend “enhances the ‘velocity’ of money.” But most people only think of products, not services, says Park Howell, who says that it is time to focus on buying local business services, specifically advertising, creative and communications. “We’re promoting our competition because we’re big believers in a rising tide lifts all boats. There’s plenty of business to go around, so keep it local.”

 

Tags: ,

Hopenhagen: inspiring creative, but no offline visibility?

I’ve seen a lot cause marketing campaigns, so perhaps my expectations are high for this one, particularly.

The presentation by Ogilvy Earth (yes they did set up a group with this name for sustainability-related clients) is eye opening,.

It hinges on the word ‘Hopenhagen‘ which initially struck me as yet another clever pun. But it’s been well thought out, to focus on this city less as a destination for activists and tree huggers, and more as a symbol, a buzz word, a starting point for conversations, individual and collective actions…

Two things going for it:

  • An impressive media-backing. Speaking of media, those donating TV, print, radio, online and ‘out-of-home’ media include The Economist, EuroNews, The Financial Times, GOOD Magazine, Google, Harvard Business Review, International Herald Tribune, Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, Newsweek, Scientific American, Business India, Time Warner Cable, and a host of others. JFK and Los Angeles International airports, the Thomson Reuters building in Times Square, and even The Wall Street Journal, typically not supportive of such global warming attention, is also in this group.
  • The campaign is bristling with social media elements –with the usual suspects – Twitter, Facebook, a YouTube channel. There’s an interesting ‘passport’ to be obtained. I like how someone has setup a simple way to use the campaign as a Twitter background, at Twibbon.com.  The flash mob, that was also part of the campaign, and turned intio a video,  ‘sunbathing’ is very funny, though it’s not gone quite viral. Watch this:

But while all this is impressive and works well in the digital world, I was hoping to see more real world events, local visibility, community calls to action. Passports and online petitions can go so far.

The city of Copenhagen itself has adopted the campaign. Why stop with that?

  • Why shouldn’t citizens of other cities adopt the idea as well? Or claim ‘sister city’ status with Hopenhagen?
  • Where are the meet ups, the walks, the school programs, the spontaneous –copycat flash-mobs events, even– the engagement of utility companies, art venues, universities, churches and temples etc?

We get so focused on digital media, with its global reach, we often forget to communicate, through local channels, and our human networks. If people can change their Twitter background, they will be ready to change some aspects of their analog life as well, if only for a few weeks.

It’s not too late. If only Ogilvy Earth could get slightly more down to earth …

 

Tags: , , ,

Love it when a chart beats a logo

GatesWatching last evening’s live webcast by Bill and Melinda Gates, I liked how Bill zipped past Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and the Windows logo, to note that these ‘pictures’ don’t compare to something completely different –a chart showing  decreasing infant mortality rates.

I love it when presentations don’t use graphics as a crutch. (Love it when the first slide is not the darn company logo, as if to remind the brain dead in the audience as to who is presenting! Full disclosure: I have committed this crime myself, and know it sucks!)

Love it when someone stops a canned PowerPoint preso and uses the flip chart instead to draw some crude Venn diagram or stick figure to explain the point. (If you’ve not read The Back of a Napkin, I highly recommend it, as I have done before like a broken record.)

In somewhat ironic news, this month, Gates (who owns Corbis) supposedly ‘expanded his stock photo empire’ with a small stake in Eastman Kodak.

 

Tags: ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,681 other followers