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Nudity as activism – Interview with Petr Pavlensky, Red Square Artist

Posted by Tatjana Vukic | 10-12-2013 20:05 | Academy | Category: Interviews

Our world appears to be spiralling ever faster, ever more out of our control. We are more than ever linked with each other, bound together, depending on each other. At the same time we have never been as divided by class as today: class, religion, race, nation, gender – all of them tear us apart instead of bringing us together. First we stereotype everybody, including ourselves, then we put ourselves into any drawer just to make our own voice heard. Personality, character? They are no more. We conform to others. We desperately seek our individuality in a group that is just like us thereby becoming another anonymous loudmouth. Our protests become ever more extreme otherwise nobody would notice it.

Often enough outsiders do not easily understand such protests, such extreme measures artists and political activists seek out. Breaking taboos has always been and will always be difficult for everybody. That is the very point of breaking a taboo. Do I understand this way of activism? No. Do I know if this is the right way, will the new form of protest – one example of which we will learn more about in this interview – lead to reform? Or weill it just lead to a self-perpetuating cycle in which the extreme measure itself becomes the message? I honestly don’t know, and this is why I sat down with Petr Pavlensky to try to understand. Petr is a 29-year old Russian political artist. Before he nailed his scrotum to the Red Square earlier this year, he wrapped himself naked in barbed wire or sew his mouth shut to protest Putin’s oligarchic Russia. Most recently he founded the magazine “Political Propaganda “.

Photo: Victor Ribas

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Interview: Mike Sukle about 9 years campaigning for Denver Water

Posted by Marc van Gurp | 16-06-2013 21:00 | Academy | Category: Interviews, Strategy


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.

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A review of “Goodvertising”

Posted by Reuben Turner | 13-10-2012 20:59 | Academy | Category: Corporate Social Responsibility, Design, Reviews, Interviews, Social Marketing

A review of ‘Goodvertising’, a new book about ‘good’ advertising compiled by Thomas Kolster and published by Thames & Hudson.
It’s a good book –a bit like Osocio, printed out.

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Book Review: How Advertising Will Heal Your Business and the World

Posted by Monica Brasov-Curca | 2-08-2012 20:30 | Academy | Category: Corporate Social Responsibility, Online, Interviews, Talks


Author: Mark Woerde
Published May 2011
Publishing on Demand
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Free copy paperless copy at Letsheal.org

I became interested in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a few years ago and was further intrigued after I attended “Conscience Capitalism” conference in 2011 at Bentley College just outside Boston, Massachusetts. There I learned a great deal from the likes of John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and marketing guru Philip Kotler, things like aligning a brand with a good cause and finding a niche market for responsible advertising.  Yet for me there was something missing, it seemed the companies doing CSR were simply looking for a marketing strategy to attract a different target audience and thus expand their bottom line. They may have been looking to expand business to the healthy hipster type because it is where the money is.  The sad truth is however that but for a few, most did not have much to say about what it meant to actually “do good with your brand.”

More after the break…

Source: Interview with Mark Woerde and Book "How Advertising Will Heal the World and Your Business"

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Interview: Kathryn Bolkovac - The Whistleblower - One Woman’s Fight for Justice

Posted by Tatjana Vukic | 22-05-2012 21:28 | Academy | Category: Interviews

Human trafficking – it is the new slave trade, an action many of us thought be extinct after the US Civil War. But it is worse than ever, not least because many of the victims hand themselves over to get out of economic and political peril. They want to flee societies in turmoil, corrupt systems, they want to find a life they can build on their own. As is often the case, women and children suffer more often than men; they are targeted for prostitution and cheap labour. The problem is not limited to some Third World countries or undemocratic systems, Europe is a large part of it. Traffickers promise poor women the world, but they end up in some downtrodden whorehouse in Hamburg, Paris or London. That is surely not the way these girls intended to see the world.

Europe’s open borders and differences in laws help those trafficking in humans. Add to that the violent and chaotic societies in countries just at the limits of Europe and pimps can go about their business – with humans as commodities! – relatively safe. One such haven is Kosovo, which has not come to rest after 20 years of turmoil and war. Even worse, those sent to help the people of Kosovo - may they be Serbs, Bosnians, Albanians, Muslims, or Christians – are often involved in the crimes. With 50,000 KFOR soldiers stationed far from home, brothels “shot up like mushrooms” as Pasquale Lupoli, local head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) once put it. Women from Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria are auctioned off to Kosovo’s pimps for between 1,000 and 2,500 dollars.In another war-torn country, also used as a transit for human goods, Bosnia, Kathryn Bolkovac started her tour as a police force instructor in 1999. She came as a UN peace keeper. Little did she know then she would become a sole fighter against human trafficking. Like so many others in the new imperial wars, she was not directly employed by the UN but by DynCorp, a private military contractor from Falls Church, VA in the USA, commissioned by the UN.

Kathryn Bolkovac accidentally found proof that employees of contractors - there to make Bosnia safe, ensure peace and a democratic society - were involved in human trafficking and abuse of children. Although she was on her own, was threatened, isolated, and eventually fired from DynCorp, she took it upon herself to expose the perpetrators. On August, 2nd, 2002 a court in the UK, where she had filed a lawsuit against DynCorp for wrongful dismissal, ruled in her favour: The company should not have dismissed her for exposing internal defects. Or ‘whistle-blowing’ as it is now widely known. Thanks to Kathryn Bolkovac’s efforts military contractors, who are only loosely supervised by democratically elected authorities, had to explain themselves in court. However, none of the US or European personnel has been punished, yet, regardless of how good the evidence collected by Bosnian police for weapons trafficking, buying women for a few hundred dollars, or forced sex with children is. Whenever possible law violations emerged, soldiers and employees were suspended, sent home, and dismissed. As long as they remain on US soil, it is impossible to prosecute them, since the US will not put their own citizens under the jurisdiction of a non-US court.

US courts see crimes during a UN mission as outside their province, local authorities in Bosnia and Kosovo are powerless. The International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague would be a solution, but since its inception no US President has acknowledged its jurisdiction over US citizens. I talked with Kathryn Bolkovac about her experiences, which she wrote down in her book The Whistleblower. (Bolkovac, K.: The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice, Palgrave MacMillan 2011 / Upcoming editions: Polish and Serbian) Under the same title her story has been filmed starring Rachel Weisz in 2010.


Source: Kathryn Bolkovac - web page

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Aaron Cohen: As Darkness Disappears – Fighting slavery today

Posted by Tatjana Vukic | 24-04-2012 19:21 | Academy | Category: Interviews

Some things in life are easy. We know them, we think of them, we understand them. And then there are those phenomena we would rather not know about. All the bad things … murder, rape, child molestation. We try hard to look away, and most of the time we succeed – until someone like Aaron Cohen reminds us that many people in the world do not share our comfortable life in freedom.
When preparing this interview with Mr. Cohen I felt very uneasy. What he experiences almost on a daily basis is the lowest of the low ends life has in stow. Aaron Cohen is a free-wheeling agent fighting human trafficking. Or slavery, as some put it.
It is not meant metaphorically, we are not talking about cubicle workers in New York high-risers in search for a rich living in the Hamptons. This is about people, most often underage, even children, sold by their parents, robbed from their homes to satisfy middle-aged man in city brothels. Man and women forced to work under inhuman conditions, beaten up and tortured regularly, raped 30 or more times a day. In real life, not some Hollywood adventure film set in the 1800s.
It happens now. Here. Everywhere. Human trafficking is taking place on a worldwide scale, it is not exclusive to some backwater banana republics.
Before Aaron Cohen started to look into the trade of human souls, he was more or less like many other young people in the West. With his friend Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction he grabbed life at its tail, celebrated every minute of it. Groupies, alcohol, clubs, drugs, parties. The usual. Until he found a purpose in life: Help free the slaves.
Cohen became a human rights activist, a specialist in finding those sold into slavery and those selling. He travelled South America and Asia in his search and rescue missions. His work does not consist of rushing in guns ablaze, he knows well that this does not help anybody. He talks to governments, connects with NGOs.
I talked to Aaron Cohen about his life, his mission, and the lives he saves. (more after the break)

Aaron Cohen is an author and human rights activist specializing in human trafficking.


Source: Thanks to Dierk Haasis for great help in english translation

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Stefan Sagmeister creates with open perception

Posted by Tatjana Vukic | 2-04-2012 17:24 | Academy | Category: Design, Interviews

He is one of the most innovative contemporary graphical artists, the sage, the thinking man’s designer: Stefan Sagmeister. His most radical work was a poster he created for his lecture in Detroit 1999. The invitation text was scratched into the skin of his torso, then photographed with a large format camera, which made every pore and every drop of blood clearly visible.

Let’s see what Stefan Sagmeister tells us about his life’s lessons thus far.

Photo © by John Madere

Source: The interview was published on SIBICA magazine

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Social Photography in your Communication Strategy: Instagram

Posted by Marc van Gurp | 17-01-2012 21:30 | Academy | Category: Online, Interviews, Strategy

Instagram is huge. Recently it became the largest mobile social network. Remarkable because the social photography app is only available for the iPhone until now.
I started with Instagram also last year. I stopped with Twitter and now I’m trying to express myself without words. I love it.

I was curious if brands, and in particular non-profits, use the network in their communication strategy. That was a disappointing search.
Socialfresh published an article in the autumn last year with a small list of brands using Instagram. And I found a smaller list of non-profits.

One of them is charity: water, the non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations.
Gorgeous pictures from their field work and inside pictures which give the viewer a nice insight in their work.
I spoke with Paull Young lately, the Director of Digital at charity: water. I was curious about their thoughts and strategy. Read it after the break.

Clean water from a charity: water project in Brus Laguna, Honduras.

Social Photography in your Communication Strategy: Instagram - charity: water

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Interview: David de Rothschild gives nature a voice

Posted by Tatjana Vukic | 30-12-2011 09:20 | Academy | Category: Behaviour Change, Interviews

David de Rothschild is an adventurer, environmentalist, eternal optimist and the founder of myoo.com a group that uses exploration, adventure and storytelling as a way to give nature a voice. David is leading a new generation of action-oriented change makers and reigniting a collective spirit of hope that the fate of our planet can be rewritten. Driven by his immeasurable curiosity for the natural world he has journeyed to both poles and ventured to some of the most remote and fragile ecosystems on our planet in order to bring widespread attention and innovative solutions to urgent global environmental issues.

Photo: Matthew Grey

In 2006, David spent over 100 days crossing the Arctic from Russia to Canada, which made him the youngest British person, to ever reach both geographical poles. By then he had already become one of only 14 people ever to cross the continent of Antarctica, and was part of a team that broke the world record for the fastest ever crossing of the Greenland ice cap. In 2007, David led a field expedition to the rainforest of Ecuador, to draw attention to the damage international oil companies have caused by drilling the vast oil reserves.

Underlying this is David’s unwavering belief that we must work together and question a ‘that’s just the way we’ve done it’ mentality, best exemplified in David’s 2010 expedition; the Plastiki. In early 2010 he sailed across the Pacific Ocean on a catamaran made buoyant by 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles to alert the world to the shocking effects of single use plastics on the health of our oceans. The message and journey was seen and heard around the world by millions.

In November 2011 David and a core crew traveled into the heart of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest to discover the effects of the controversial Belo Monte dam project as part of MYOO’s ARTiculate series.
David is recognized as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Clean up the World Ambassador, UNEP Climate Hero and a Young Global Leader respectively.

Read the interview after the break.

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The campaign evaluation is also something to share

Posted by Marc van Gurp | 29-11-2011 21:52 | Academy | Category: Reviews, Interviews, Strategy

In all stages of campaigning the final stage is the one which is mostly invisible for the outside world. We write for over six years now about nonprofit campaigns and we rarely see the results. The results that’s what matters finally.
The result of a fundraising campaign is clear. It is about the final amount. In awareness campaigning it is more difficult. A goal like behaviour change is difficult to calculate. 
It don’t have to be hard figures. Within an organization a campaign evaluation is a routine. But how is that for the outside world? For all volunteers?

At Osocio we judge mostly on design or copy. Now we are talking about the results.

imageThat’s why I was pleasantly surprised when Priscilla Brice-Weller shared her campaign evaluation on Google+ and Facebook.

Priscilla did a campaign with her organization All Together Now earlier this year. The campaign with the name Give Racism The Finger was the first national campaign to erase racism in Australia.
We wrote about it in May this year.

She published the evaluation on the All Together Now website using Storify.
I talked with Priscilla last week about this evaluation.

NGOs seldom publish a review of their campaign results. Why did you do it?

One of the key strategies we decided on when we started All Together Now in 2010 was that all our work would be evidence-based. This includes publicly sharing the results of our programs to show what works and what doesn’t in anti-racism campaigning (i.e. providing evidence).
So we published a review because doing so is at the very core of our work. The more creative the review is, the more likely people are to read it.

Read more after the break.


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Exclusive interview with FEMEN’s founder, Anna Hutsol

Posted by Tom Megginson | 2-08-2011 12:31 | Academy | Category: Interviews, Talks

Anna Hutsol, the founder and leader of Ukraine's FEMEN movement

A few weeks ago, I contacted Anna Hutsol, the founder and leader of Ukraine’s FEMEN movement, for an interview via Facebook. It proved difficult, as Anna is not only extremely busy but we speak different languages and required the services of a translator.

FEMEN have risen from being a local protest group in Kiev, known for their use of nudity and street theatre to protest Ukrainian sex tourism, to an international phenomenon tackling issues such a nuclear power and Saudi bans on women driving. The frank sexuality of their protests have gained them worldwide media attention, and they continue to build social media solidarity with other activist groups through FEMEN - International Support Team (FIST). They even, famously, bullied Mark Zuckerberg into reinstating their Facebook account after it was removed due to all the topless posts.

This morning, I finally received my answers in broken English. Anna did not address all my questions, but she did provide some insights into FEMEN’s origins, its mission, and its future.

I have taken the liberty of “cleaning up” the English responses. (* I have also included the raw translations of answers following, in case there is any misunderstanding.)


OSOCIO: How was the idea of FEMEN first conceived?

Anna: It was not difficult, as everyone knows how many problems are here in Ukraine and as Ukrainian girls we feel that every day in our minds and bodies. So all we needed was to be brave enough to tell the world about it. That’s why we decided to show that women are protesting, and to use our bodies as weapon in the fight.

OSOCIO: Have your objectives changed since then?

Anna: Yes, we have added many objectives to our program. But like in the beginning we still demand to stop sex tourism and prostitution in Ukraine. We demand to
let women develop themselves.

OSOCIO: How do you respond to critics who say that topless protest objectifies women?

Anna: As young, simple Ukrainian girls, we believe in what we are doing,  and we know what we need to do to protect ourselves. FEMEN was trying different
ways of fighting and in our experience we understood that only radical things can change the situation. At this time, in this country, only radical women’s protest can shake the world of passive women.

More Q&As and pictures (nudity) after the break.

Source: FEMEN Movement

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Walking With Sluts

Posted by Tom Megginson | 4-04-2011 13:01 | Academy | Category: Interviews

Slutwalk Toronto happened today, as scheduled. Some 1500 women, men, and people of all gender expressions, converged in front of the Ontario Provincial Legislature at Queen’s Park, and marched peacefully to police headquarters on College St. This was in response to an incident on January 24th, when a Toronto Police spokeperson caused widespread outrage by suggesting that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

A group of Toronto women took to social media to organize a show of strength against the blaming of rape victims by the system.

photo by Woresh Mean

A couple of days ago, I conducted an e-mail interview with Sonya JF Barnett, one of the lead organizers of the event.

Q: How did you feel when you first heard the words “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized” coming from the Toronto Police?

A: Absolutely appalled. Even though I’m engaged in a sexually liberated and creative community that uses the modern definition of the word ‘slut’, hearing it slung from a police officer was very disheartening. I knew exactly what context he had used it in {as an epithet} and I realized that education in the use of the word was important for our protective services.

Q: How did the concept of Slutwalk come about? Were you influenced by any other movements?

A: SlutWalk was conceptualized as a reaction to the harshness of the word. If it was going to be slung out, we were going to sling it back, with our own spin. We weren’t influenced necessarily by specific movements, but by simple motivation to do something. Our team is a spirited bunch that are confident in standing up for what we believe in.

(Interview continued after the break)

Source: Slutwalk Toronto

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About Fearless & Common Revolution: Alex Bogusky

Posted by Tatjana Vukic | 7-03-2011 12:06 | Academy | Category: Interviews, Talks

It looks as if we are on a sure way to self-destruction. All the signs are pointing to it: climate change, environmental issues,  world hunger, water pollution, air pollution, insufficient drinking water for billions of people ... The list goes on and seems to grow longer every day.

At times even the most optimistic despair in light of all this. The major driving force of all these problems seems to be an almost ideological way of consumption, some already call ‚consumerism’.
We consume without thinking. We consume without a conscience.

Everybody is part of this, everybody consumes: food, clothing, devices and machines, energy … We use up a lot but don’t think much about it. We do not give a thought about what we consume, how we consume, if we do damage to ourselves, others, or the environment.
Are we really that unscrupulous or have we just become complacent, thinking we cannot change anything?

Alex Bogusky believes in the influence of the buyer, he sees revolutionary power with us, the shoppers. According to him, it is time to expect more from companies and brands.

He initiated the projects “FearLess” and “Common” to create a new agreement between consumers and corporations.

I spoke with Alex Bogusky about his projects, about the Fearless and the Common Consumer Revolution.


Source: The interview was published on SIBICA magazine

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Round Table: How a local campaign went global - Embrace Life

Posted by Marc van Gurp | 21-02-2010 23:35 | Academy | Category: Interviews


The most successful social campaign from this winter is definitely the Embrace Life campaign from the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP). An road safety campaign without shocking images is pointing us to a new approach in communication.
The video already got more than 1.4 million views on YouTube. A fan made a group page on Facebook. And here on Osocio the pageviews are still coming in.
I got many questions about the campaign so I decided to do a co-creation interview with the help from our fans on Facebook and Linkedin.
Thanks Nedra, Tatjana, Reuben and Bas.

The man behind the campaign is Neil Hopkins, the Communications Manager from SSRP. Neil was very helpful with answering our questions. Read it after the break.

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Round Table: Better World Advertising

Posted by Marc van Gurp | 30-03-2009 23:29 | Academy | Category: Interviews


“I started Better World Advertising (BWA) because I saw the power that social marketing could have in helping individuals, and society as whole, in solving issues that cause a lot of pain and suffering.  I still believe that getting information to people and delivering messages that motivate them to make better decisions has unlimited potential for good.”

As said by Les Pappas, President & Creative Director of San Fransisco and New York based social advertising and marketing agency Better World Advertising. Regular visitors of Osocio know the work of BWA very well. Time to talk with BWA. In this new chapter of the Round Table we spoke with Les Pappas and Emily Foran, Art Director at BWA. Again a collaboration with James David from The Groundswell Collective. This interview is crossposted at his great blog.

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About Osocio

Osocio is dedicated to social advertising and non-profit campaigns. It’s the place where marketing and activism collide. Formerly known as the Houtlust Blog, Osocio is the central online hub for advertisers, ad agencies, grassroots, activists, social entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans from around the globe.
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