How Awareness Campaigns Fail
A very interesting article from the The Stanford Social Innovation Review : “Stop Raising Awareness Already”.
The article critiques a number of awareness campaigns and how they do not achieve what they set out to do – and in some cases may even do harm.
One campaign they look at is the “Dumb way to die” campaign focused on reducing the number of rail accidents in Victoria, Australia. This campaign was much appreciated for its quirky video and song:
However, the campaign failed to address the main cause of railway accidents – the majority were suicides. And as the article states:
“It is worth considering that the video’s charming figures and catchy hook may have actually made death seem more appealing or normal to those already at risk.”
But it’s not all criticism! The article provides some lessons for campaigners:
- Target your audience as narrowly as possible;
- Create compelling messages with clear calls to action;
- Develop a theory of change;
- Use the right messenger.