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: