Shock tactics more effective for Third Sector campaigns

The combination of social media and video as communications tools is powerful, but those embarking on attitude changing campaigns should always remember first and foremost, it is the idea that is key.

The mechanics of spreading the message is important, but if the message behind the campaign is no good to start with it, it doesn’t matter how clever the communication medium is, it is destined to fail.

For all the resources that commercial organisations have to persuade consumers to buy their products or services it is often the Third Sector that comes up with ideas that really capture the imagination.

Their power to shock people into action is a tactic that the private sector needs to be very wary of getting involved with, as judging the public mood can be so difficult.

The corporate world is littered with too many companies looking to shock consumers into parting with their cash by piggy backing on events only to fall flat as they fail to grasp the sensitivities of public feeling.

Bing’s shameless attempt to exploit the 2011 Japan tsunami springs to mind.

As issue rather than profit driven, the Third Sector can be much more radical and bold in its approach and when they get it right, it really can help change the world.

A Lebanese based charity that works to eliminate the marriage of child brides really struck gold when they came up with this campaign.

KAFA, which means ‘enough’ in Arabic produced a video which appears to show the the marriage of a girl, who looks no more than about 12, complete with white dress and veil, tying the knot with a man old enough to be her grandfather.

The video has sparked an international outcry with 1.7 million views since it was released, the clip offers up a view into another world where thousands of young girls around the world are forced into marriage.

Although the couple in the film are actors, many viewers on social media were fooled into thinking the scene was real as did many disgusted passers by as it was being shot.

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Campaign coordinator Maya Ammar said: “The scene (video) was supposed to seem shocking because the practice itself is shocking.”

According to the United Nations Population Fund nearly 15 million girls some as young as eight are forced to marry older men, sometimes in their sixties and seventies, every year.

Currently in certain areas of Lebanon, a parent can give their permission for their daughter to marry when she is nine years old. Without parental permission, girls can marry as young as 14.

Partly due to this campaign the Lebanese government is now looking at law changes.

But the Third Sector is not immune to shooting itself in the foot with shock tactics. It can still go horribly wrong even when the intentions are honourable, as the Motor Neurone Association found out.

The smartest social media and video messaging are only ever as good as the core campaign message, get that right and with some proper planning, everything else should fall into place.