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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
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.”
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.
Cross-posted at Change Marketing
Marketing in The Round
By Gini Dietrich, Geoff Livingston
Published Apr 23, 2012 by Que. Part of the Que Biz-Tech series.
If the marketing leader in your life still doesn’t “get” that advertising, PR, digital and social media all have to be informed by a central strategy, this review offers you two options:
1) Buy them a copy of Marketing in The Round, and make them read it; or
2) Smack them upside the head with it.
Given that this roundup of current best practices is under 200 pages, I recommend the former option.
If you are the kind of person who reads every expert marketing and media blog you can cram into your RSS feed, you will not find anything groundbreaking in this book. You will, however, find it a very useful summary. Authors Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston have managed to take all the traditional and innovative marketing wisdom available to the motivated learner and put it into one system they call “The Marketing Round”.
It’s basically a hub and spoke system, in which the unified brand strategy/strategist(s) is the hub and every marketing and media tactic radiates out from it. It’s simple, intuitive, and so sensible you may reconsider the “smack upside the read” option if your old-school marketing chum who reads it doesn’t immediately become a convert.
(More after the break)
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.
That’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.
For the last six years I’ve taught a class on socially conscious design at Virginia Commonwealth University called Design Rebels. I created the class after teaching general design classes and seeing that no one was talking about the issues that drove me to start my on socially conscious design firm in 2001. Namely that design is an extremely powerful tool for affecting change in the world and designers need to be making conscious choices about how and for whom they do this work.
Through readings, discussions, presentations, and self-directed community projects, Design Rebels introduces the students to the range of gray areas they will encounter in their professional lives. But when I started the class the only book that really dealt with the related issues was Naomi Kline’s No Logo and it was not directed specifically towards designers. Lacking a proper textbook I created a course pack culled from dozens of books and articles that represented the range of issues that I wanted to class to discuss. And every year I have added and removed articles attempting to refine it into a functional handbook for the students, while keeping an eye out for something to fill the void.
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