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Due to the nature of our increasingly infinitesimal attention spans and continual desensitization to violence, humanitarian initiatives must exercise some serious marketing savvy. We have to fight hard to get people’s attention and compel them to act.

Check out the image (below) of the Landmine Removal Campaign designed by Publicis Mojo. This is what they had to say: “Using a ketchup sachet, we demonstrated the horrific nature of living in a land mine affected country and how much a part of everyday life that horror is. The idea is simple: as you tear open the sachet you also rip through the child’s leg and the ketchup inside pours out like blood.

Many would view this as extremely vulgar and offensive. But many of those same people have no qualms about watching a brutally violent TV show or movie. Why is it ok to make up violence to a point where you condition society to be desensitized to it, but it’s not acceptable to reveal true life images and stories for the purpose of sensitizing and educating people?

Is this campaign something I would recommend in a perfect world? Absolutely not. But we certainly don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a violent, desensitized world. And it’s edgy ad campaigns like this that tend to compel people to actually get involved. Otherwise it doesn’t even register on their radar.

We’re going to have to be creative and market savvy in order to compete with Hollywood. So when we do it, don’t say we’re “offensive and over the top”. Revel in the fact that we’re savvy enough to get your attention now.

NOTE: This blog post refers to advocacy and awareness campaigns, not to organizations like KEZA where we are building businesses. Business and advocacy require very different tactics.

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