#Hashtag Politics

Boima blogged here recently about UNICEF’s efforts to raise awareness about the drought in the Sahel; what he described as “a step in the right direction towards facilitating genuine empathy, and away from the sensationalistic portrayals that have come to define awareness campaigns.” Then there are campaigns like this one by the French Action contre la Faim (ACF or Action against Hunger). We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but here, unfortunately, we go again.

As Osocio — the blog about “marketing and advertising for social issues” — sums up ACF’s campaign here:

To make the people of France aware of the situation ACF use the tagline “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” [pic above]. And for the campaign they use various items like print ads, outdoor ads, web banners, Facebook and a web video. But the two most notable items are the tweet and guerrilla action. ACF asked to use the hashtag #actionsahel to spread the word. This webpage, with some French celebs, bloggers and media channels, is available for making it more powerful. From the webpage [it] is possible to send a tweet to one or more of the mentioned persons. It looks like this:
“@FredCavazza: 15 millions de personnes en danger de mort au #Sahel. Aidez-les à ne pas sombrer dans l’oubli #actionsahel @ACF_France”

On Saturday May 19 all solidarity tweets reveal on a giant billboard. This panel will be visible on the European Night of Museums, at the Cité des Science in Paris.

Here’s the campaign video:

“Un tweet peut tout changer”? Please.

Let’s break it down again:

Cognitive psychologists have long maintained that memory is not hardwired; instead, our memories of events are “imaginative recollections” that are cobbled together, rather than being filed-away blueprints of experiences, imbedded in perpetuity into our memory systems. However, if the tribulation we experienced is great enough, it creates what is known as a “flashbulb memory” — where we remember the minute details of a traumatic event as if a flashbulb-aided photograph of that experience was captured in our memory. #Kony2012 taught us, only a few short weeks ago, that a tweet, a FB post, or a PSA will not change the world. For many of us, #Kony2012 was a disaster of such epic proportions that it created a flashbulb memory: we wince and go into a collective fetal position when someone even suggests that we smile on our brother, love one another (with no kissing of course), and do some tweet-variety cartoon call to action. But it looks like very few had that flashbulb experience, teaching them a good enough lesson that they would never stick their hand into the yaws of a many-toothed charity run when it offered up its compelling grin.

* Sean Jacobs contributed to this post.


One thought on “#Hashtag Politics

  1. As a social marketing campaign consultant for NGOs and International Dev Orgs, I agree with Bioma’s assessment of the UNICEF campaign as “a step in the right direction towards facilitating genuine empathy, and away from the sensationalistic portrayals that have come to define awareness campaigns.” But I wouldn’t equate the Action Faim campaign with the #Kony2012 debacle. There are two different goals here– the FAIM campaign is designed to make those folks who are living under a rock somewhere and not aware there is a famine going on, wake up and donate — to give them a sense of urgency and immediacy in the form of shock advertising. No harm done in my book, and hopefully some $ will be generated quickly. Same can’t be said for the KONY2012 campaign. Interested parties, read my blogpost here #KONY2012: Not just annoying but dangerous: http://geopatra.blogspot.com/2012/03/kony2012-not-just-annoying-but.html

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