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New! Background, theory, interviews and cases on non-profit advertising and marketing for social causes.

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Can fundraising marketers recreate the #icebucketchallenge?

Posted by Tom Megginson | 21-08-2014 18:11 | Academy | Category: Social Marketing


Yesterday, it finally happened. Somebody challenged me to the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.

If your internet connection has been broken all summer, it’s this year’s big meme. You can read about it here.

To be honest, I felt that the movement had passed its high-water mark when I saw Justin Bieber do it. But as all internet fads do near their end, it now saturates my Facebook and Twitter feeds. In other words, it’s impossible to ignore.

That’s great news for the ALS Association, who have seen a $30 million fundraising spike this summer. It’s also meant a great deal, personally, for people with ALS (and their families), like Anthony Carbajal to have this really brutal issue made top-of-mind.

But what does the phenomenal success of this fundraising meme mean for the future of fundraising? As a social marketer, I can’t help but take a cold, hard look at how things have — or have not —changed.

Source: Feature Image: "Crystal structure of hexagonal ice" via Wikimedia Commons

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Is this eating disorder ad too sexy?

Posted by Tom Megginson | 20-02-2014 16:10 | Academy | Category: Social Marketing


It’s a serious question. This woman has the typical idealized body of a model, and despite the scary body painting, the portrayal is undeniably drawing attention to her curves and bare skin.

When I think about eating disorders, I try to imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a funhouse reflection of myself that is always bulgier and heavier than reality.  That’s the really scary thing about dysmorphia, as opposed to just wanting to lose weight: it’s a chronic mental illness that can kill, because people who have it can’t see what they’re doing to their bodies:


Source: Ads of The World

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Strategy: Laughing Our Way to a Better World

Posted by Marc van Gurp | 12-05-2013 21:30 | Academy | Category: Social Marketing, Strategy, Talks

Africa For Norway: Laughing Our Way to a Better World. Saih.

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:

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Three things I learned while blogging about cause marketing in 2012

Posted by Tom Megginson | 31-12-2012 18:51 | Academy | Category: Social Marketing

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%.

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What the American gay rights movement can teach all social marketers

Posted by Tom Megginson | 29-11-2012 21:54 | Academy | Category: Social Marketing

Originally published on Change Marketing

What the American gay rights movement can teach all social marketers

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.

Source: Change Marketing (Crosspost)

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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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Is He A Real Man? The “Vrai Djo” SFCG Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted by Monica Brasov-Curca | 7-02-2012 04:23 | Academy | Category: Behaviour Change, Social Marketing, Strategy


In the Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC, sexual violence is a community-wide problem.  Rape, in the DRC has been used as a weapon of war and sadly continues to increase even after.  According to the peacebuilding NGO Search for Common Ground or SFCG, it is estimated that there are over 400,000 surviving rape victims living in the DRC today.  In this environment violence against women has become normative behavior. 

SFCG says “the campaign turns common assumptions about male behavior in familiar situations, such as going to a job interview, on their head. The peacebuilding organization Search for Common Ground, believes sexual violence is best addressed when men are active partners in the solution.
According to C-Picks at C-Change, Country Director Dirk Koch, explains “One often sees campaigns that denounce men’s behaviors and say what they should not do, but one never sees a campaign that motivates men to become positive, to find their inner strength, and to respect women and girls.”

The Vrai Djo Campaign features five short films and three audio spots which are broadcasted throughout the country. The PSAs (Public Service Announcements) feature Celeo Scram, “a Congolese superstar with a positive image”, In the spots he says he says “A real man (Vrai Djo) is a man who knows what he wants and knows how to control himself.

The campaign instead shows a person who respects himself and respects the women and girls around him.” The films portray scenarios that often lead to sexual harassment or abuse which would be familiar in the Congolese context (e.g., a job interview or a wife returning late from work) and shows instead opportunities for men to support the women in their lives.


Source: Search For Common Ground

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Free download: She Decides

Posted by Marc van Gurp | 21-03-2010 17:26 | Academy | Category: Social Marketing, Strategy

imageWomen make more than 80 percent of all health-related decisions for their families (this is a U.S. Stat). That goes for choosing a brand of children’s cold medicine to selecting a health insurance plan. Yet many health-related organizations miss the mark when it comes identifying them as a critical audience – or understanding what motivates them.

A new Fenton guide, She Decides: How to Reach the Most Important Audience for Your Health Campaign, is designed to help health leaders and communicators who are shaping policy or encouraging healthy behaviors harness the power of this core demographic.

The guide explores four tried-and-true marketing principles that effectively target women through Four C’s. The principles — Care, Connect, Cultivate and Control — drawn from Fenton’s analysis of market research, successful campaigns from both the corporate and nonprofits sectors, as well as the latest in brain science.

She Decides is available for download at: http://bit.ly/shedecides

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Research thesis about social campaigns

The psychology, the semiotics, the rhetoric of visual communication

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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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