AcademyNew! Background, theory, interviews and cases on non-profit advertising and marketing for social causes.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in several countries, so it seemed like the right time to share this series of illustrations by Toby Allen, titled “Real Monsters”:
Although it could be misconstrued as literally demonizing people with mental illness, the externalization of the various disorders as evil creatures who prey on the mind (or soul) is as old as civilization. The characterization of depression as an ominous black dog goes back to Samuel Johnson, and was hauntingly referenced by Nick Drake almost 40 years ago (just before his death):
Toby Allen told Global News that he hopes to draw attention to mental illnesses that often get ignored or aren’t taken seriously.
“I found that drawing my worries and fears as little monsters would help me think about them differently and make my anxiety feel more manageable,” said Allen in an email to Global. “I began to work with these ideas and draw monsters that represented my worries and fears.”
In early October 2013 a boat filled with African migrants sank off of the Italian island of Lampedusa, killing at least 111 people, and more than 200 are still missing. Friday the 4th of October 2013, was declared a day of mourning in Italy. The event has brought much introspection and concern. News and Media, not withstanding has of course told the story of these migrants. Sometimes the content is important to educate, inform, or even to advocate, but on Friday the 4th of October 2013, I think the Guardian went too far. More after the break…..
Call them what you want: “Pinktober” campaigns, “Pinkwashing”... our version is “Pinkverts”. They’re the annual rush of branded campaigns to raise awareness (and sometimes funds) for breast cancer and research into its cure.
It’s not all bad, of course, but over the years we’ve noted certain clichés that the cause could do without. One is the sexualization of the disease, using the serious and sympathetic issue as an excuse for objectifying healthy women’s nude bodies. The example above is actress Liang Jing — one of eight Chinese celebrities who posed nude for an “awareness” photoshoot in TrendsHealth magazine.
The Ukrainian women’s group are anarcho-feminists who aggressively expose their bodies to the male gaze. Many of them (but not all) embody the beauty norms more familiar in porn and pop stardom. They preach women’s independence, yet are criticized for not being sensitive to the “modesty” values of Muslim feminists.
And now, the greatest contradiction of them all: Femen is apparently run by a man. Or so that’s what everyone rushed to believe, when The Independent reported troubling revelations about to be screened at Venice in Kitty Green’s documentary about the group:
Ukraine is not a Brothel, directed by 28-year-old Australian film-maker Kitty Green, has “outed” Victor Svyatski as the mastermind behind the group. Mr Syvatski is known as a “consultant” to the movement. According to the Femen website, he was badly beaten up by the secret services in Ukraine earlier this summer because of his activities on behalf of the group.
However, Ms Green reveals that Svyatski is not simply a supporter of Femen but its founder and éminence grise. “It’s his movement and he hand-picked the girls. He hand-picked the prettiest girls because the prettiest girls sell more papers. The prettiest girls get on the front page… that became their image, that became the way they sold the brand,” she says.
The internet was quick to judge, and throw their former darlings under the bus. I’ll admit that I was shocked to think that some dude was pulling all the strings. But in this age of wildfire memes and snap group judgements, not all is always as it seems.
Today, in The Guardian, Femen’s most outspoken member, Inna Shevchenko, wrote a response that was both heartbreaking and credible:
I did a lot of blogposts about the Denver water campaigns made by Sukle Advertising &Design.
“Award winning, humorous, positive approach, recognizable, consistent style, understandable message and above all great artwork” I wrote recently.
The campaigns is already in it’s ninth year. Time to look back.
I did an interview with the agency name giver Mike Sukle last week about those nine years.
Mike took the time to give us a good insight from the agency side.
This evening (Eastern Standard Time), Canadian Space Agency astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield will return to Earth after five months orbiting our planet in the International Space Station — eventually serving as commander of the mission.
At 53, Commander Hadfield is a veteran astronaut, having been in space previously to work on the construction of the ISS in 2001 (which included a 14-hour space walk) and on the Space Shuttle in 1995. But this mission, which is likely Commander Hadfield’s last, has had a particular influence on public perception of space and science because of his social media activity.
Africa For Norway was one of the highlights we wrote about last year. ‘The funniest campaign this year’ I said.
Being funny was the strategy Sindre Olav Edland-Gryt explained in the recently recorded TEDx talk in Barcelona.
It’s Radi-Aid vs Oh Dear.
“By turning the tables the spoof video has sparked a lot of debate and self-reflection in both media and development organization.”
Sindre Olav is Human Rights campaigner for Saih and africafornorway.com. He is a self-trained communication professional and wrote his master’s thesis on religion and development. One of Sindre’s mantras is why creativity and humor is key to getting people involved in the fight for human rights. He believes that the repeat portrayal of negative images often creates apathy and a feeling of hopelessness.
The TEDx talk from Sindre Olav:
A while back, Noah asked if anyone from Osocio would review The Design Activist’s Handbook. Both Marc and I wrote a review, and Marc posted his first. That explains why there are two reviews of the book on Osocio. If you’d like your book reviewed, please get in touch.
Review of The Design Activist’s Handbook by Noah Scalin & Michelle Taute
This is an excellent book.
I wish I had a few copies on my shelf. I’d hand them out to all the young creatives and design students I meet, when they ask me the questions that all designers with a conscience ask sooner or later:
How did I end up here?
How do I change it?
What choices do I have?
Are there other ways of being a designer?
And above all,
How do I make a living without compromising my values?
This book frames those questions for people who haven’t yet found the ways to ask them. And it provides its readers with ways to answer them. Different ways to think about a career in creativity or design. New models of design business. Ways to find partners, funders, clients and projects that chime with your view of the world.
Both inspiring and practical, it also contains interviews and features with practitioners in conscientious design. People who are, as The Design Activist’s Handbook has it, already both ‘making a difference’ and ‘making a living’. My one minor complaint might be that it could benefit from more global examples – they are all from the US, though to be fair this book is aimed at a US audience.
What it’s not is a conscientious design or design ideas sourcebook. For that, I’d recommend Goodvertising or, you know, the internet (this blog is a good place to start). The design examples it does show are primarily useful because they tell stories about how work was commissioned and created. How it came to be, which, if you’re a conscientious designer, is just as important as what it is.
It will probably put into words what many designers already feel. It will, I hope, inspire a new generation of people to put their talent and creativity into shifting the world on its axis rather than just shifting product. In its pages may be the future creative department of The Good Agency and the next generation of Osocio bloggers. For that alone, we should be thankful.
If you’re a designer or creative, and you want a book that helps you both ask and answer the questions that really matter, buy this one.
The Good Agency
Earlier this week, I wrote about Femen’s “Topless Jihad”. It was an international day of semi-nude protest against the oppression of Tunisian activist Amina Tyler, as well as a statement against conservative Muslim institutionalized misogyny in general.
At the same time, a counter-protest Facebook event emerged. Calling itself Muslim Women Against Femen..Muslimah Pride Day, it stated its purpose as:
On the 4th April. The so called feminist group, FEMEN has declared ‘Topless Jihad Day’ in which they are asking women to go topless and write ‘My Body Against Islamism!’ on their bare breasts. We as Muslim women and those who stand with us, need to show FEMEN and their supporters, that their actions are counterproductive and we as Muslim women oppose it.
So please post pictures of your beautiful selves, whether you wear hijaab, nikaab or not. This is an opportunity for Muslim women to get a say and show people that we have a voice too, that we come in many different shapes and sizes that we object to the way we are depicted in the west, we object to the way we are lumped in to one homogenous group without a voice of agency of our own.
Why do you feel proud of being Muslim? Why do you choose to wear the Hijaab/nikaab? Why do you choose not to wear it? Which muslim woman inspires you? How do you feel about constantly being Fetishized by the media/feminists/policy makers in the west?
The Nu Project is part of the online movement to show female body diversity to help women of all ages, shapes and sizes feel better about their sexuality. This one is shot by a man, Matt Blum, of Minneapolis.
I started my working career in a printing house. It was in the late seventies, early eighties during the turbulent times in Amsterdam. The glory days of the squatting and anti-nuclear movement.
It was a logical choice to start my working career within those movements. Because of my study and interest in graphic design it all began in a human and environment friendly printing house. Looking back it was an important step in my life.
Consciousness of the things you do. We discussed almost everything. From the choice of printing paper to the content of the printed work. Together and with the clients and suppliers. That wasn’t easy sometimes. Buying a printing press was difficult because of the industry cartel. Recycled paper was hardly made. And suppliers laugh at us when we asked for linseed oil ink.
Barcelona-based Laia Abril photographs anorexic women she has never met. Sitting in a dark room with her camera pointed at a computer screen, she reframes and recaptures photos she sees in online “pro-ana” and “thinspiration” communities:
I re-take their self-portraits, photographing and reinterpreting their images from the screen, resulting the visual response to the bond between obsession and self-destruction; the disappearance of one’s own identity. The project is a personal and introspective journey across the nature of obsessive desire and the limits of auto-destruction, denouncing disease’s new risk factors: social networks and photography.
The results are shocking:
I started subscribing to Netflix a few months ago, and one of the best things about it is the many obscure documentaries featured. One is the 2010 doc, After Porn Ends, which follows the retirement lives of several well-known sex performers in the United States. It was pretty interesting, and after I watched it with my wife I asked her if she had ever seen the classic ‘80s expose, Not A Love Story. Surprisingly to me, despite bookshelves full of second-wave feminist books acquired in her late ‘80s - early ‘90s university career, she had not.
Lindalee Tracey and Bonnie Sherr Klein, via NFB
Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography was released in 1982. It was directed by Bonnie Sherr Klein (mother of Naomi Klein) and funded by Canada’s National Film Board (NFB) a government-funded film producer and distributor. It was one of many women-centred films to come out of NFB’s Studio D project.
The movie follows Bonnie Sherr Klein and Lindalee Tracey (introduced working as a stripper at Montreal’s still-legendary Club Supersexe) as they explore the underbelly of pornographic movies and magazines, strip clubs, peep shows and adult cinemas in Canada and the United States.
In the words of a reviewer at Internet Movie Database, “This documentary is an examination of the pornography industry such as in strip shows, sex shows, film and magazines. Furthermore, the film explorers how a large portion of it takes a denigrating view of women, leading up to depictions of sexual violence for titillation.”
I have been blogging about this topic, here and elsewhere, for almost four years. I started doing it as a form of professional development (I’m a Creative Director at a social issues marketing agency) and the process of researching and analyzing campaigns from around the world teaches me something new every day. Here are three themes that have been particularly evident in the past year:
1. Women know their own power, and they are organized
The words “slut” and “vagina” featured prominently in the run-up to the 2012 US election, and that conversation was controlled by women’s activist groups. They ended up being a major force in Barack Obama’s re-election, as his opponents held on to their policies of limiting reproductive choice: among unmarried women, who make up 23% of voters, President Obama was favoured by 67%.
Originally published on Change Marketing
Earlier this month, in the U.S. election, the issue of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples really got some traction. In one day, the states of Maine, Maryland and Washington joined California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont — well as the District of Columbia and two Native American tribes — in legalizing same-sex marriage. Minnesota voted down a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. And Wisconsin elected the country’s first openly-gay Senator.
All of this happened in an election in which divisive social issues drowned out economic ones. A great deal of time, money and effort was spent by political and religious interests on both sides. But somehow, gay rights came out on top. How did it happen?
First of all, if you filter out the louder voices on both sides and listen to the ground, you’ll perceive a change in the attitudes of average Americans. Last year, I wrote about what I saw as the tipping point on this issue.
But the cause actually did even better than I expected on election day. The credit for that, according to State’s Nathaniel Frank, is a result of a fundamental change in how the cause was marketed.