Archive for the ‘Social Marketing Peace: propaganda’s cinderella’ Category
Tags: crisis, Gaza, Israel, Palestine, violence
Tags: #Gaza #Palestine #Israel #war Conflict
the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. Media Literacy is key to curbing the power of propaganda. A good vs. bad guy paradigm is propaganda. Conflict is terrible and nuanced…Showing how each side is believing and spreading propaganda.
To help I created a Storify page which I am updated on the lasted and greatest propaganda found. Please send your suggestions in the comment box.
CLICK HERE for Storify page
Tags: censorship, conflict, Egypt, Hasbara, Hate-Media, Innocence of Muslims, Israel, libya, media literacy, peacebuilding, people-to-people peacebuilding, propaganda, Protests, violence, war
MEDIA: WEAPON OF WAR
In the last few days since the less than steller, low-budget video “Innocence of Muslims” was posted on YouTube many blog posts have been written to explain the way media was used to create the precipitating conflicts and outbreaks of violence against Western Embassies around the world. Since others have written about this specific event and the role social media has played – I won’t rehash the details however some of the most insightful and thorough posts I have found are:
1. The Protests Sweeping the Middle East and the Cultural Divide in Film Production Laws from the “Rule of Law” blog by Shabnam Mojtahedi about the difference in media laws in the US as opposed to the Middle East. It explains why most people on the ground in MENA can safely assume that the US gov. not only condoned the video “Innocence of Muslims” but most likely assisted in its production based on practices there.
2. Castrating Hate-Fueled Leaderless Web 2.0 Swarms? Monica of Cyberland writes a great condensed retelling of events and also adds good analysis on the role of social media in augmenting a low-budget and seemingly insignificant video on the worlds stage and the consequences it brings.
3. Some Reflections About Civil Society 2.0 and Why I’m Not On A Plane To Tunisia Right Now : Beth Kanter shares good insights on the role of civil society in such a crisis and how non-violent protests can be linked in.
There are more, and I may add to the list as they come – please also feel free to add in the comment section.
In my work and research I have found that media and now social media/communications are used both as channels and methods of social change. Both positive and negative social change. Media and communications have been vital tools to mobilize people towards peace, but it is also a double-edged sword, often used to escalate violent conflict. According to Allen and Stremlau in their writing “Media Policy, Peace and Reconstruction ”The capability of the media to inflame hatreds and promote violence has been relatively well documented from early studies such as the role of radio in Nazi propaganda campaigns to the more recent examples of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia” where media has been a tool used to promote propaganda, voice hate-speech and incite violence.
Further, experts of media in conflict like Vlado Bratic a communications professor at Hollins University and peace-media scholar has written, “Just like pro-war propaganda did not single-handedly cause the war, peace-oriented media cannot single-handedly end a conflict. Even a very successful media project may not be able to prevent violence if the formation of violence is caused by a combination of multiple factors and conditions out of the media’s control.” A conflict or act of violence such as those that took place in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, or the precipitating violence at various Western Embassies around MENA was not simply caused by the posting of “The Innocence of Muslims” trailer on YouTUBE. Many of those protesting have admitted to not seeing the video. The truth is that the factors and reasons why such a film served as a flashpoint which sparked bouts of violence in an era of conflict between the West and vast populations in the Middle East is more complex and nuanced than simply cause and effect.
The website “PeaceBuilding Initiative” is an excellent source for research in media and conflict. It says that the media can be a “transformational tool, encouraging violence; that is, in its capacity to encourage populations (masses) to follow and act in a violent movement.” In addition there are many negative uses of media and communications, from Milosevic’s call against Bosnian Muslims to Hitler’s propaganda against Jews. The Iraq and Afghan war brought attention to journalist’s bias in support of US policy while reporting and embedding with soldiers. And more recently in 2011, the Arab Uprisings often featured Arab leaders, blocking social media platforms or using state media to distort facts on the ground.
Tacit or passive measures by governments or NGOs have also been detrimental. Whether due to the lack of media infrastructure, lack of government support for independent media, lack of donor funding, or lack of good media conflict intervention design and evaluation methodology, each has the capacity to bring about unintended consequences and increase violent conflict.
In the list below, I will provide examples in how media and communications have negatively influenced and impacted the behaviors of individuals and masses during conflicts.
1. HATE MEDIA
The radio station Mille Collines in Rwanda is often cited for its use of hate media and inciting Hutu’s to kill Tutsi’s and moderate Hutus’ during the 1994 genocide. Stories have been told of perpetrators holding a machete in one hand and a radio in the other. It is no doubt that the messages of cultural violence delivered through mass media affect behavior. According to Hieber “Content analysis has revealed that the radio station’s approach was particularly subtle. It was only when the genocide actually erupted that openly racist comments such as “stamp out the cockroaches” were aired. Although direct cause and effect has never been proven, Radio Mille Collines has played a crucial role in alerting the international community to the dangers of hate-media.”
Even during the Arab Spring or Uprising media was used by the government and other civil society religious leaders to incite violence. For example, on October 9, 2011, the day of the Maspero Massacre, thugs and government forces killed 27 Copt marchers in supposed retaliation for Copt attack of the Army. Social media sites were abuzz as accusations of incitement of violence by Egyptisn media were leveraged. The online newspaper Ahram Online (2011) reported that “During the night, TV anchors urged viewers to go defend the Egyptian army from Coptic “attacks,” leading to attacks on Christians throughout the night.”
The recent trailer mentioned above “The Innocence of Muslims” can also fall into this category as it seemingly was created to criticize Islam. My personal experience living and working in Southern California on media and communications for non-profits, including some that serve the Arab communities. This has brought me uncomfortably close to many of the groups that produced and condoned the video. The fact that there is an audience for such hate-media against another religious group in the USA is disturbing, however the fact that many of those causing the most harm are scrupulously entangled with more main stream populations is something we should think about.
I know of pastors from Southern California Mega-Evangelical Churches that have worked with the same “Media for Christ” that produced the video (now thankfully have taken the site offline – so no link) and support their “ministry” with finances and appearances on TV shows. I count as friends many Arab background civil society leaders here in Southern California that have over the years taken major steps to distance themselves from this sort of inflammatory media. Some have also spoken to me personally saying that this sort of content had been going on for several years and that when they they asked “Media For Christ” to stop producing its hateful content which could very well provoke blood shed, they were simply ignored.
2. SYSTEMATIC REPRESSIVE MEDIA CENSORSHIP AND REGULATIONS
Often where there is greater media openness there is also space for political dissent, advocacy and promotion of peaceful pro-social behaviors. In contrast the Reporters Without Borders 2012 Freedom of the Press map below shows that where there is repressive media censorship and regulations such as Iran, Burma, or Somalia then human rights atrocities are common as governments or rebel forces can function with nearly full impunity. Hieber and Botes note that in these environments it is difficult and almost impossible to conduct peace-oriented programming on an official media level.
In post-conflict countries such as Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina there has been hot debate on whether media censorship is necessary to curb renewed ethnic tensions and hate-media. Price states that because the conflicts were initially fueled by the media’s actions, then under this guise the government of Rwanda feels obliged to repress the development of free media. According to a BBC 2011 news article, in Rwanda, “Editor Agnes Nkusi was sentenced to 17 years, while reporter Saidath Mukakibibi was imprisoned for seven.” Further it states that “President Paul Kagame “has recently been accused of intolerance and harassing anyone who criticizes him. His government defends its tough media laws, pointing to the role of ‘hate media’ ahead of the 1994 genocide.”
3. TEMPORARY AND INTENTIONAL INTERNET BLACKOUTS
Free and open media activist Jillian York writes, that while the Egyptian Revolution began online through Facebook and Twitter, it soon was hampered by government Internet blackouts. She says “Egyptians were resourceful in defying the blackout. They took advantage of Small Message Service (SMS or texting) functions on sporadically available mobile telephone networks, and reverted to dial-up Internet connections on unaffected landlines. Their tweets were picked up by international media organizations such as the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian, CNN, and Al Jazeera, and thereby helped ensure that the voice of Egyptians would not be silenced.”
In the same article, Egyptian activist Hossam El-Hamalawy is quoted for blogging about an important observation he made in 2008. “The Internet is only a medium and a tool by which we can support our ‘off-line’ activities,” he said. “Our strength will always stem from the fact that we’ll have one foot in the cyberspace, and, more importantly, the other foot will be on the ground”
As media is increasingly become a multi-way experience and a mirror of face-to-face interactions, the internet is a key factor in allowing civic voice to participate in the political process, whether it be for protest or mobilization. Eric Shonfeld notes how during the Arab Spring it was ubiquitous in the way which the governments of Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Yemen began one by one to shut down social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as they were being used for activism and mobilization for protests. Without a channel of communication for citizens to report abuses many people feared the worst. In the same article mentioned above Jillian York states that “When the Egyptian government shut down the Internet on January 27, some feared a bloodbath. Without the Internet, without the ability to keep the world’s witnesses informed, they surmised, atrocities would go unrecorded, unseen until too late.” Interestingly, in contrast the trailer for “The Innocence of Muslims” was blocked from YouTube in Egypt, Libya and other MENA countries so as to stop the violence that it incited.
Propaganda is an important weapon of war. Usually used by a government to defend their actions and positions. Journalist Andrew Marshall writes that during the 2008 Cyclone Nargis the Burmese state-run media portrayed a “well-oiled state relief campaign: soldiers unloading relief supplies from helicopters, generals inspecting neat rows of refugee tents.” In response to the offer of foreign assistance (after throwing out every foreign aid worker) the state-run newspaper, “The New Light of Myanmar” widely considered a mouthpiece of the ruling junta said ‘However, they will not rely too much on international assistance and will reconstruct the nation on self-reliance.”
Controversially, propaganda has also been implemented in social media platforms. Recently, pro-Palestinian blogs “Electronic Intifada”and “Hasbara Buster” have used social media platforms such as twitter and blogs to “out” secretly paid Hasbara agents on Twitter, posing as “regular people.” According to the Guardian Newspaper “Hasbara” is a term used by the Israeli government and its supporters to describe efforts to explain government policies and promote Israel in the face of what they consider negative press about Israel around the world. However, The Guardian reports that it is also widely considered “information, spin, and propaganda.” The newspaper quotes Avital Leibovich, Israeli Military Spokesman stating:
The Hasbara directive also liaises over core messages with bodies such as friendship leagues, Jewish communities, bloggers and backers using online networks. Last week the directorate started a YouTube channel showing Israeli bombings in the Gaza strip. “New media is a new war zone within the media – we are planning to be relevant there,” said Leibovich.
Al-Queda has long used social media such as Youtube and websites to promote its ideology and spread its anti-western propaganda around the world. Ironically, with the release of the trailer “Innocence of Muslims” it became evident that like Al Queda, other small groups with strong ideologies can use social media and other media resources to find a huge audience for their propaganda. This sort of propaganda often incites violence either by followers or dissenters.
As mentioned before, rarely is the actual media content the root cause of a conflict, rather it serves to incite or confirm ideologies. This is especially true in the case of media which promotes and perpetuates cultural violence. Cultural violence is a form of violence that is used to justify and sustain direct and structural violence Cultural violence occurs within the symbolic sphere such as the use of religious symbols, flags, speeches, and hymns. I would add that the simple act of showing Mohammads face, as the “Innocence of Muslim” does, can be a form of cultural violence especially when it is directly against Islamic custom or law. In turn the burning the American flag in retaliation is also cultural violence.
John Galtung underscores the power of cultural violence as it “makes direct and structural violence look or feel ‘right,’ or at least not wrong.” Cultural violence includes hate speech, religious justification for war, the use of myths and legends about war heroes, etc. Hate speech is particularly divisive as it is usually the method in which cultural violence is communicated. When one group speaks of another group as unequal and unworthy of respect, or blames it for current problems and suggests violence to eliminate that group, that is hate-media.
What will counter such abuses of media and communications? Some strategies are to use equal (or more) amounts of good or true news to counter false propaganda or hate-media and therefore balance out the media environment. Training in media literacy and more education can also help those vulnerable to media manipulation as they learn how to detect it. Other strategies have been to increase regulation and ban the use of certain words or phrases in the media. All of these may have a place and a time, however I believe that the method which not only addresses the media but also the root causes of the violence will always be people-to-people peacebuilding. It is where groups across conflict lines begin to learn and work together for a better future. There have been many people-to-people interventions in the field of Peacebuilding, some have even used the media (traditional and new) to do this.
Watch for my next blog which will categorize and highlight how MEDIA is used as a TOOL FOR PEACE. It will also include various kinds of strategies, genres, NGO Planned intended outcome programming, and functions.
I was just in Kenya working on the next phase of the PeaceTXT project with my colleague Rachel Brown from Sisi ni Amani. I'm finally getting to implement an approach to conflict early warning and early response that I have been advocating for since 2006. I came close in 2008 whilst working on a conflict early and response project in Timor-Leste.
Tags: asylum, displaced, IDP, refugees, social action, transmedia
On August 23, 1982, my parents, weary from suffering political and religious persecution and living under the looming threat of imprisonment, fled the Socialist Republic of Romania, taking eleven children with them. We must have been an enigma as we noisily boarded the airplane to America; seven rambunctious boys taking advantage of the free-flowing Pepsi and four wiry girls dressed in traditional Romanian attire. My mother actually sold our belongings and purchased the clothes so that we can look our best as we traveled to America. These small acts of dignity even in the most humble of situations defined our humanity.
While I was quite young this experience molded and made me who I am. It was the process of acculturation and assimilation that was the most formative and difficult. It was the learning of a new language, it was the experience of never really fitting in, it was being asked “Where are you from?” It was never having enough, yet sharing what you did. However it was also knowing where I am from and to whom I belong that grounded me and gave me a foundation. My families experience, however socially and economically difficult as it was, is just one story among literally millions which refugees, displaced persons and asylum seekers can tell today. One common thread however is that no one chooses to be a refugee and everyone should have a place to call home.
As shown in the image above, the UNHCR estimates that in 2010 there were 43.7 displaced, refugees or asylum seekers. Global Trends 2011 reports that there was an increase in 800,000 new refugees in just one year. However due to the recent largest repatriation of IDP’s in decades the number has stayed down, despite the increase in new refugees. Worldwide today there are an estimated 42.5 million people who have ended either as refugees (15.2 million), internally displaced (26.4 million) or in the process of seeking asylum (895,000). Victims of violent conflict, food shortages and environmental disasters : each one has a story to tell.
For more details the full report can be found here: http://www.unhcr.org/swf/2011_Global_Trends.swf
The Campaign: My Life as A Refugee
Called ‘MY LIFE AS A REFUGEE’ features various media platforms which according to the website “forces players to face the same life-changing decisions refugees make in a true-to-life quest to try to survive, reach safety, reunite with loved ones and re-start their lives.” the campaign features:
According to the UNHCR Website: After selecting a character, players face a series of tough decisions and chance events in a quest to reach safety, reunite with loved ones and rebuild their lives. The game features three main characters who have been displaced and separated from their families. Months or years of narrative are compressed into five daily episodes. Players are prompted to make decisions along the way in order to reach safety. Each narrative is based on the real-life experiences of millions of refugees fleeing war or persecution.
online giving or advocacy thru events such as the World Refugee Day Umbrella March in Madrid.
I am glad to see such initiatives which use strategic communications and transmedia storytelling to tell the story of those that are often voiceless. I especially like that refugees are given a platform through Youtube to tell their own stories. The aim of the project is to provide an immersive experience to an obviously young audience, one that I hope will be compelled to take action. I hope that UNHCR will be a model for more organizations working in peacebuilding and conflict resolution to invest time, money and energy into such media projects and more importantly I hope that these initiatives would resonate with people today. I see these type of projects actually competing on some level with the many other offerings commercial media has, and that is a good thing. I also hope the app will be available soon on iphone – so I can finally download it!
Tags: advocacy, Child Soldiers, drunk, Invisible Children, Jason Russell, masterbating, San Diego, Uganda
most things about KONY 2012 have been said.. and mostly said very eloquently, ubiquitously and oftenly (?). The good, the bad and the ugly have taken over our FB newsfeeds and Twitter streams… while perhaps Invisible Children have gained in popularity – over exposure of social media has also come at a price. Jason Russell was arrested for being drunk and masturbating in public at 11:30 AM Thursday 3/15/2012 in San Diego.
This is really tragic. It’s sad for Jason, his family and Invisible Children as an organization.
It is also tragic for those that have lived under the tyranny of the LRA in Uganda, Congo, South Sudan etc.. It is sad that it seems their future hangs in the balance of the good or bad behavior of a marketing/advocacy organization far removed from the conflict.
Sustainable peace can only come when there is an INTERNAL effort to push for it. Military force, outside mediation, blockades or huge media campaigns can change dynamics for a while. But unless the INTERNAL actors have a voice and say in their own future, it will always be a foreign element. I do believe that Invisible Children was trying to amplify and augment that voice, unfortunately it became more about their (Invisible Children) organization and less about the cause. These are distractions, sad sad distractions… My only hope is that we can focus on the real issues here.
Tags: Amy Lockwood, behavioral change, conflict, Democratic Republic of Congo, peacebuilding, social change, strategic communications, target audience, TED
Recently I have been writing/developing what I am calling “The SSBCC for Peace Framework.” It aims to be comprehensive yet simple and user friendly method which shows the integration of social marketing and communications strategies with conflict resolution/ peacebuilding interventions which may be applied to universally to conflict contexts.
The SSBCC for Peace framework, much like what should ideally take place in the conflict resolution and peacebuilding field always begins and ends by listening to the target population and understanding the needs and wants that drives behaviors.
The framework calls the targeted audience “conflict consumers.” The term highlights the environmental factors that are a reality for conflict consumer in that as actors in a conflict they function within a conflict economy and make use of the goods and services generated within it.
A conflict consumer has the agency to change their own personal knowledge, attitudes or behavior and influence others to do so and thus impact the conflict dynamics. The status of “conflict consumer” is one, in which the actor currently finds him/herself, not the state they could or would like to be in. A conflict consumer is for the most part inextricably connected to the conflict and thus are central to the causes and dynamics of a conflict.
Since the conflict consumers are central to any strategic communications or behavioral change communications program, listening to them takes place at the beginning and throughout the process. And strategy begins and ends with the Conflict Consumers.
But…its not so easy…
Changing behaviors in conflict areas is a difficult task – mostly because many do not have the self efficacy to do so.
Last November Monica Cyberland, communications professional who blogs at eventures in Cyberland posted an entry called : Video Clip of The Month: Do Aid Workers Need PR 101 about Amy Lockwood’s TED talk (her current role is deputy director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health)
The talk is called “Selling Condoms in Congo”
The crux of Amy Lockwoods talk was about the seemingly lack of knowledge the development field has of who the target audience is – specifically of Health Communications and Social marketing interventions in Congo aiming at increasing condom use.
Monica in Cyberland responded with some great insight. I will quote her since I cannot say it better, She said:
“After viewing her talk, I was a little stunned. Unlike every other TED video I’ve seen (I love, love, love, TED Talks), her talk was filled with misinformation, half truths, and flawed health communications concepts:
- Lockwood assumes people in the DCR are thinking about sex before they use condoms. That certainly is true in the United States. But years of brutal civil war have helped make the prevalence ofrape and other sexual violence in the DRC arguably the worst in the world. In conflict zones, rebels storm villages in the dead of night, setting homes on fire, shooting men, gang-raping women, and committing other atrocities that will literally give you nightmares. According to USAID, about 25.6 percent of women who have suffered sexual violence in the DRC’s conflict areas are HIV-positivecompared with 1.8 percent of women in the general population. Obviously, a significant proportion of at-risk people involved in sex acts in the DRC have terror and aggression, not sex and fun, on their minds. Marketing perpetuating the message that women are objects would likely only aggravate this nightmare.
- Just because the veiled promise of sex sells perfume, jeans, and underwear doesn’t necessarily mean the certainty of sex sells condoms. I’m doubtful of that leap. Lockwood’s four-minute talk doesn’t address any quantitative or qualitative measures she used to document the marketing superiority of generic brands with provocative packaging. She only mentions some anecdotal evidence she obtained through her personal conversations. To convince me, you would need to point to some surveys, focus groups, observational studies, etc. to support such claims. You’d also need to show the competing products were otherwise the same and price, quality, and placement/availability weren’t contributing factors.
- Fear is not typically a message major donors would use to promote condom use or most other types of desired behavior change. Fear messages often don’t work because information has little or no effect on behavior. Rather, your marketing and messages need to give people a sense of self efficacy or invoke social pressure/community norms among other things. For example, a sex worker (a critical audience segment) in the DRC who needs money to feed her family and pay her children’s school fees (school there is not free) must feel she has the power to insist her clients use condoms without risking losing them. Neither fear messages about the dangers of AIDS/HIV nor provocative packaging will give that to her. What does developing messages that address self efficacy or social pressure/community norms typically entail? Not simply knowing who your audience is. It means researching what members of each key audience segment perceive as the benefits and barriers to changing their behavior.
- I personally find it hard to believe many donor agencies put funding statements on condoms as a marketing strategy. USAID, for example, does sometimes get flack for putting its logo and “this assistance is from the American people” on aid items. Condoms, however, are one the exceptions to its contract marking policy (see section 3184.108.40.206). I find it odd the picture Lockwood used to demonstrate her point in her presentation says UNMIL. UNMIL, as far as I know, stands for the United Nations Mission in Liberia. Liberia is nowhere near the DRC.
- Off the communications topic but still noteworthy, Lockwood claims the DRC is the largest country in Africa. It’s not. Algeria recently became the largest country in Africa after South Sudan broke away from Sudan, which used to be the largest, in July. Perhaps she misspoke and meant sub-Saharan Africa? If not, the comment makes her appear to be a rookie.
- Also off the communications topic, Lockwood attributes the lack of life-saving drugs for HIV/AIDS victims in the DRC to “poor infrastructure.” The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world and some bush areas are inaccessible in the rainy season. Many people in the DRC do not even have access to aspirin, refrigerators to safely store life-saving medicines and vaccines, insecticide-treated bed nets to combat malaria, or basic sterile supplies to help prevent mothers from bleeding to death in childbirth. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS drugs are just one of a zillion unmet needs there. Brutal civil war, extreme poverty, and donor prioritization in the face of heart-breaking need, not “poor infrastructure,” are to blame.
- Perhaps most importantly, condoms are simply not available in most areas of the DRC. For this reason, it’s a little far fetched to suggest marketing or packaging are to blame for only 3 percent of the population using them.”
Tags: assumptions, name, other, social marketing, transmedia storytelling
I created this poster on Illustrator and placed sticky mirrors over each Hello nametag. The effect was when you looked straight on instead of seeing the nametags you saw yourself. At the conference I also handed out real nametags with mirrors on them – so that as the participants walked around the conference instead of the name tag saying “Hello My name is – so and so” it was a mirror – reflecting the person meeting them. This was to create a face-to-face space and place – where participants can practice asking each other about their assumptions. The nametags said “Hello, my name is” in languages that represented countries currently in conflict which are listed. The quote at the bottom by Cooley asked the viewer to think about the assumptions he believes about himself and the other. This was created to illustrate my research on the topic of applying social marketing and transmedia storytelling to the field of conflict resolution and peacebuilding
The idea was to use this as a format at a future conference where the webpage, brochures, t-shirts, nametags and other marketing/informational material would all ask the conference participants what their assumptions are about themselves and the other and how they let these assumptions shape their attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.
It is transmedia as it would engage participants through a multi-platform framework, both in person and on line through media. It is social marketing as it challenges participants to consider their attitudes and beliefs about the other and further provides a place to practice engaging with the other. This initiative would open dialogue that can reduce misperceptions about the capabilities and assumptions of the other. I hope to implement this concept at a conference in the future.
Tags: attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, blood, conference, conflict, conflict consumer, Georgetown University, intervention, Israel, Palestine, participatory, peace, peacebuilding, problem, product, solution, strategy
I really like the organization Parents Circle Families Forum – they do good work which mostly revolves around the stories and narratives of those that have had families killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recently at the Georgetown from Conflict to Peace conference where I was presenting a poster (which I will post here) and an essay on the subject “Selling Peace” applying social marketing and transmedia storytelling to the field – I chatted with Ms. Robi Damilin, head of PR and an international speaker. Her son was a victim in the conflict.
She stopped at my poster and was interested in my idea and said – here look we have a new initiative coming up on the 14th of September 2011…What kind of marketing plan would you do? She handed me a flyer with a flag and a bag of blood (you can see it on the website listed below)
The plan is highlighted here:
http://bloodrelations.org/#About it was the winning idea by Jean Christopher-Royer from Paris France in a “idea contest” called “The Impossible Brief” you can check out their web page here:http://www.theimpossiblebrief.com/ put on by the advertising company Saatchi and Saatchi Israel. The quest was to find a creative idea to solve the conflict in Israel and Palestine. So far so good, I love creativity and innovation and there is no better way than casting a wide net asking the people on the ground. Jean Christopher-Royer’s idea was to stage a huge blood drive in Israel and Palestine and do a major blood transfer. the “theory of change” if you will is asking “would you kill someone that has your blood running thru your veins?”
Well, my encounter with Robi got a bit awkward, you see when I started asking conflict analysis and social marketing questions, there were few real answers. The dilemma is that the idea came out of innovation, not at out of analysis of the conflict and situation on the ground – both important factors in gathering that formative research that is so vital to creating a solid participatory peacebuilding social marketing campaign. We were looking for a solution without saying exactly what the problem is. Solving conflict is a huge problem, and it cannot be solved with one initiative. We have to do the doable.
Anyway back at the conference…Although having traveled to Israel and Palestine and being very familiar with the conflict I wanted to know how she saw it. so i asked formative research questions to her (I had about 5 minutes to come up with the a genius plan that will be able to compete with a sleek advertising campaign (Robi’s joke, not mine)
is there a lack of blood in the blood banks in either Israel or Palestine? who’s the target group you are reaching? Who will donate blood? where will the blood go? Who are you partners? is this symbolic or a real initiative? well to be quite honest the answers were a bit disappointing. Actually I believe I annoyed Robi.
You see I wondered if besides a sleek marketing and advertising campaign, an awesome prezi website and the donation of blood from those in the “Parents Circle” (who all are highly involved participants) if the campaign would or could go any farther. I know that without direction as to who in this conflict you are trying to reach? (the general public is not a target audience – one can hope to reach all of them, but without segmenting them- a one hit wonder will not do it). I questioned what moves these targeted “conflict consumers? to act? what are their needs? wants? desires? are we trying to change their attitudes about the other? their beliefs? their behavior? Giving blood is painful, takes time, energy, good-will… for all these things there are competing behaviors… how will the campaign make sure that the benefits outweigh the costs? The campaign has to be ready to answer these questions: What will happen to the blood? Will it be given to an attempted suicide bomber? will it be given to that soldier or settler I see every day on my farm?
While I can see this is well intentioned, with the information I have (which may be limited) I found the project very superficial.
1. good conflict analysis
2. participatory formative research (what does the target group think about themselves, their needs, wants etc.)
3. target audience segmentation according to demographics- psycho graphics – age – religion etc., marketing strategy
what is the:
4. price: (cost of giving blood?)
5. product: (do you want the blood? do you want the target group to change their attitudes about the other) do you want your target group to change what they believe about the other?)
5. place: (where do you want them to get the product you are selling? if blood – where do they go to give it? if its an attitude or belief change – tell/show them what you want on a website, brochure, poster etc. give them safe space to practice the new beliefs and behaviors.)
6. Promotion: what are the offerings? what will they get with giving blood, changing beliefs, or attitudes – this must be a realistic benefit -(PEACE on earth and good will towards man is not a realistic benefit!) Perhaps a shirt, their name on the website, a chance to go and physically bring the blood to the other side- this is largely based on knowing your target conflict consumer and what moves them to action- hence the need for segmentation and formative research)
7. Partners: what groups are endorsing this intervention? can the targeted conflict consumers trust them?
And last but not least:
8. Continual monitoring and evaluation: how are your targeted conflict consumers reacting? have their needs, wants and desires been met? have they changed with the changing conflict dynamics? is your intervention reaching them? are they doing the desired behavioral change? Are they buying the PEACE your are selling?
Instead of casting a net into the sea and hoping and wishing that someone will bite, peacebuilding initiatives can and should be strategic, thoughtful and have greater breadth and depth in reaching their target group. This can be done with the most innovative ideas – like applying transmedia storytelling and truly making the whole experience participatory!
I don’t want to be too hard since some of the things mentioned above are done on the website – however without a strategy it is (to use another fishing analogy-there has not been enough in this post) like throwing out a line without knowing what your going to do once that fish latches on. Again, I want to highlight that i may not have all the details, my ideas are based on my conversation with Robi (PR person and speaker), the websites and what has been done so far. Please take a look at the website, even virtually donate blood…I DID! (still not sure if there was a point besides awareness/advertising the campaign) and tell me what you think!? I have added the Blood Relations video below for your viewing: