Sarah Brookes MA Thesis


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A look at how people think, feel and react to digital campaigns. How do people experience digital as architecture? How does emotion affect a medium that is both still and moving? And how can we utilise people's feelings and turn them into action?

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Sarah Brookes MA Thesis

  1. 1. What Can The Advertising Industry Learn From How The Public React To Digital Campaigns? MA Advertising Sarah Brookes September 2012 Top Copy 1
  2. 2. 815268 Please mark according to Guidelines aq_GDMarkSpLD_Oct07.pdf Bucks New University Faculty Design, Media & Management MA AdvertisingWhat Can The Advertising Industry Learn From How The Public React To Digital Campaigns? Sarah Brookes ID: 21200131 Dr Ray Batchelor September 2012 Word count: 7,889 Module Code: AD705 2
  3. 3. Contents:Introduction. Pg. 4Part One: 1.1Digital is Social. Pg. 6 1.2Thought, Feelings, and Response Pg. 9Part Two: Case Studies 2.1 Kony 2012 Pg. 12 2.2 The Best Job In the World Pg. 19Conclusion. Pg. 23Picture Credits Pg. 25Bibliography Pg. 25 3
  4. 4. Introduction: Emotion is critical to advertising because it is critical to all human thought (DuPlessis 2005, Pg.Xii).Invisible Children’s recent Kony 2012 charity campaign was a 30-minute video presentedvia social media,about Joseph Kony,leader of the LRA,whoallegedly used violence andintimidation to recruit child soldiers and sex slaves for his military rebel group.The success of this campaign and thesubsequent backlash against it is the reason that Iam writing this thesis.Itis what motivated me to initiate a deeper investigation into theaudience’s response to online campaigns.I want to explore the positive and negativeaspects of Invisible Children’s approach, how experience affects emotional response, andanalyse other campaigns (whether successful or disastrous), to gather insight into whatprovokes participation online and conclude fundamentally what the advertising industrycan learn from this.Both the positive and negative response to the Kony 2012 video pushed me to questionwhy this happened, and if other unsuccessfulcampaignshad made similar mistakes?Whatcan be learnt from the campaigns that got it right?Is there a generic formula forsuccess,and what can the advertising industry learn about communicating in a fast anduncontrollable medium?How important is the role of emotion in social media, and howmuch do we need to consciously consider these aspects when planning a campaign?These questions are essential to answer because the digital space is expandingrapidly.Digital marketing has the fastest growth area that we have ever seen, andcompetes for a market share of 1 trillion dollars according to WPP(Ryan and Jones2011).However, these changes are also naturally having an effect on our behaviours andlifestyle.As the digital space becomes our second home how do we experience digital asarchitecture?How does it affect response in a medium that is both still and moving?Howdoes group action affect the public’s response and a campaigns fate, as it unfoldsonline,often with little commercial control?This offers the second reason to thisinvestigation’s relevance; understanding the way we receive and respond in cyberspacewill help us know if it is possible toproduce bettermarketing campaigns, particularly inour real-time culture, where the fight for consumer engagement toughens.Since readingNick Hirst’s essay on Experience Architecture and The Future of Planning, I have begunto question further the relevance of experience within the digital medium and whatcontribution it can make to advertising campaigns (Hirst, 2012a).As part of my research it will be essential to analyse human thought processesandbehaviours; such as the work on Herd by Mark Earls(2009), and how this may havean affect on sharing and the circulation of content.As advertising roots itself in ourculture, it will also be crucial to consider campaign timing in terms of what else is goingon in the audience’s lives.My thesiswill provide anyone interested in the digital and social arena for marketingpurposes with a critical analysis of what can be learnt from some of the best and lesssuccessful campaigns.I will map out my argument by analysing and applying theoriescurrently influencing industry today, which I have gathered from key books, industryopinion and articles circulating online.I will also examine the campaigns in detail toprovide insight, which can be applied to the theory gathered.I will conclude my 4
  5. 5. argument with some practical advice and innovative solutions for the advertisingindustry.What is essential to note is that these campaigns aren’t just digital they are also social,which introduces the reason for my first chapter.It is vital to assess our current digitalcultures to help us understand and have clarity on where to go next.What follows this isan introduction into where we are with digital, and current attitudes and behaviours sothat you may better understand why certain trends are emerging.I will go on to explaincurrent social theories of behaviour in an attempt to understand why people behave theway they do.Part two of this thesis analyses two case studies, each of which illustrates key aspects ofdigital campaigns.Kony 2012is a fascinating case, and I’m reviewing it because it was acampaign that experienced both huge success and failure and I have never knownanother campaign like it.I will also examineThe Best Job in The World campaign,becauseit was a superb idea, successful across the globe, and won industry awards. 5
  6. 6. Part One: 1.1 Digital Is SocialDigital is a really interesting medium, and it has grown tremendously fast, shiftingnotions of its own possibilities as well as that of people’s social behaviours too.It hastaught us more about us as human beings and has demonstrated just how importantbelonging within a group is.‘Berners-Lee’s creation was fuelled by a highly personalvision of the web as a powerful force for social change and individual creativity’ (W3,1999).Web 1.0 linked web pages through hyperlinks allowing people to consumecontent, and today, 2.0 connects people through the creation of content (AT&T,2008).The development of the digital landscape has been driven by people’s desire tosearch, browse, share, interact and review content, which gave rise to social medianetworks in particular.Content and conversation are the new currency, and this ischanging the way commercial communicators engage with their audiences.Digital hasbecome an exciting and powerful platform and many marketers have been attracted to itwith the desire to experiment and earn vast and valuable returns on investments and, asdata capture has gained in sophistication too, there has been a lot to learn.But asDamian Ryan and Calvin Jones in ‘The Best Digital Marketing Campaigns’(2011)mention,as devices develop and trends shift, we are on a constant learning curve andkeeping on top of everything in digital is difficult.However, as we continue to make moresocial connections and increasingly go mobile with 4G there is even more change tocome, and this comment from digital agency Dare conveys the implications: The Internet is becoming flatter, deeper and quicker.It’s reaching more people, on more occasions, on more devices, more speedily.Brands need to prepare for that future.Specifically, they need to ready themselves for an Internet that no longer lives on a desk and that is no longer run by institutions.Prepare for people and places (Digital Britain, 2012, Pg174).As digital enables deeper social interactions and new behaviours form, does thisprogression at such speed mean we need to continue experimenting?Should we have areview into what exactly is forming, and what the behavioural implications are andwhy?According to Dare’s report Digital Britain: Where all the new devices come together is where the new behaviours are emerging and arguably where some of the most important insights about the way people live through technology are today.This is where marketers need to be looking in greater detail, because understanding this can surely unlock a large commercial advantage (2012,Pg.166).Our needs and desires haven’t changed, they have just found new environments, andthrough digital they have become more evident and intense as the web has allowed ouractions to gain pace much more quickly, and subsequently this leads to furtherstrength.Over the fence conversations are now across the globe conversations.Peoplehave always started movements, but a profound change is underway and more peoplethan ever are harnessing the web to band together around a shared passion or missionand they are doing so daily.We are joining forces to rebuild communities, overthrowpoliticians, rescue the rainforest and change institutions, and with facebook in particular,if you can think of a cause or a passion or even just a hobby, chances are you will findagroup of people forming a community, having a conversation, sharing advice and rallyingaround big ideas.Today it is often done via the web, and begins to explain why 6
  7. 7. movement marketing could be the way forward.The trick for brands will be keeping themspontaneous and authentic (Goodson, 2012).Goodson in his book Uprisingalso agrees with author Clay Shirky, who observes that ‘thisconfluence of new communications technology with a growing desire to engage andmake a statement is resulting in the most radical spread of expressive capability inhuman history’(2012, pg18).But as brands hand over the power to the consumer inorder to gain powerful stories and stronger relationships, audiences begin to have theirown demands.Expectations form and as brands demand loyalty, consumers demandtrust.This is where I would argue that digital has far stronger emotional implications thanother media.The Internet, in my mind, is essentially a new form of architecture.It is a space, whichjust like buildings in the real world; provide a platform for experiences that form both anobject and anchor for feelings.Digital as a culture invites an investment of feelingsthrough interaction and today the generation who have never known an existencewithout digital are obsessed with recording, storing, sharing and preserving theemotionality of the everyday, which has begun to live a life of its own online.We start toobserve the circulation of affect as emotions work as a form of capital, and canaccumulate strength.Social networks in particular, such as Facebook with its Timelinefeature, become repositories of our past (Karatzogianni and Kuntsman, 2012).Kuntsmanin his recent book Digital Cultures and the Politics of Emotionsays: Thinking about feelings and emotions as they become digital archives, once vibrant but now ‘saved as’, seemingly still but always open to (re) emergence…call our attention to the work of emotion as they move. (Karatzogianni and Kuntsman, 2012 Pg7).Exploring further, I notice how emotions can accumulate strength through postings ofcomments as they move and spread between people’s ideas, subjects and opinions.Asideas are posted and shared between friends and people outside of networks, invites usto think about how structures of feelings are shaped and re-shaped in digitalenvironments.Our attention to movement and circulation allows us to consider change orthe persistence of emotions such as paranoia, compassion, or indifference (Karatzogianniand Kuntsman, 2012).We will see examples of this in section two - Kony 2012 inparticular.When interviewed, NeasaCunniffe, Senior Planner at RKCR / Y&Rmentioned‘I thinkemotion in the online world is very pertinent too, as very few brands are nailing it at themoment – utility yes, entertainment yes – but emotional connection in the way a greatTV Ad does it?That’s something which hasn’t been cracked yet by most’(Cunniffe, 2012).However, this is not always true.In some cases digital campaigns have the potential toelicit stronger emotions than TV because good campaigns rarely just present an emotionlike TV advertisements do, to family-sized groups of people, they provoke and allow aninteraction on a mass scale.The implication here is the movement and accumulation ofemotion and this is why I believe digital is so powerful(discussed later in case study1).When an idea catches fire there can be little to stop it.Shirky in ‘Here ComesEverybody’ explains this ‘as more people adapt simple social tools, and as those toolsallow increasingly rapid communication, the speed of group action also increases, andjust as more is different, faster is different’ (2009, Pg161). 7
  8. 8. So, the digital route, which has completely surpassed our expectations; is fast, thrivessocially, and provides the potential for mass awareness through participation, spreadthrough conversation and ideas.However, I believe the advertising industry should beaware of how sharing is motivated by feelings and emotion and how the digital spaceinvites an investment of these feelings.The speed and ability for everyone to join in aconversation enablethese emotions to accumulate strength through movement, whichcan have a huge impact on the shape and direction of a campaign.Also to learn is thepower of movements, and how the action could provide an answer to the future ofmarketing.So what leads to action?Next I consider our thought processes, social interaction andhow this affects our networks and what provokes people to participate. 8
  9. 9. Part One: 1.2 Thought, Feeling,& Response. Emotion governs all our behaviour: driving our unconscious reactions, but also determining what becomes conscious.Emotion feeds into, shapes and controls our conscious thought(Du Plessis, 2005, Pg4).It is important to introduce and outline some of the current social and scientific theoriesthat are influencing thought in the advertising industry today.The overall aim of thischapter is to examine how old and new theories can potentially explain why people thinkand respond in the way they do.In particular, I consider the work of Daniel Kahneman,and Mark Earls, who focus on emotional response and social influences on ourbehaviour.What can advertising agencies actively apply to their digital campaignstrategies?Kahnemanframes the way we think into two different systems.System 1 (emotionalbrain), which is fast, automatic, rooted in habit and heuristics and requires littleeffort.Research reveals this as our dominating decision-making behaviour.However, wecan and do engage in system 2 (rational brain), which is much slower, conscious, usuallyverbal, and does require effort.Earls explainsKahneman’s work by saying that we canthink if we really have to but mostly we’ll do anything we can to avoid it, and ‘thinking isto humans as swimming is to cats’(Earls, 2010).Usually we manage with system 1 and therefore rarely bother with system 2.The result:we think much less than we like to think we do!Sarah Carter, Strategy Director at DDBexplains that the order in which our brains react is usually ‘Feel – Do –Think,’ not ‘Think – Feel – Do.’ So if we think at all about anything – and remember that we often don’t – we are more often than not merely post- rationalizing what we have already decided via System 1’ (DDB, 2011, pg3).Carter goes on to explain that since we are so good at post-rationalizing ‘we humans arenot rational creatures but rationalizing creatures’ (DDB, 2011, pg3).We are a lot more social than we think and have evolved to be brilliant copiers of otherpeople (Earls, 2009).This supports Carters view, and although we like to think we arefree-thinking and independent people, we instead avoid thinking for ourselves at allcosts, and follow what is going on around us because it’s easy and likely sustains groupharmony(DDB, 2011).Naturally, we are more inclined to form groups because they offerus protection, support and strength in numbers.Groups also enable us to solve problemsand face challenges, and the harmony we seek from these groups offers us the ability tobelong.This would explain why we are so influenced by what is going on around us andwhy we are ‘more likely to adjust our behaviour based on what we are seeing, hearing,and learning from the people who are close to us’ (Goodson, 2012, pg59).It will beinteresting to see whether the successful campaigns analysed in section twogot thissocial aspect correct, rather than thinking on an individual scale, whether it wasintuitively planned or not.Nicholas Christakis a renowned scientist, expands on the work of Earls, and explains thatwhen we have emotions, we are compelled to show them, which then enables people tosee them, process them, and then react by copying them, and this suggests howemotional contagion takes place in human populations (Christakis, 2010). 9
  10. 10. Figure 1: Illustrates Nicholas Christakis’ experiments, which explores how humanemotions are spread across physical social networks.He questions if human emotion can be passed on in a much more sustained way acrosstime and involve large numbers of people?He continues to suggest how we share andnetwork socially, is actually a part of our genetics.For example some people have largernetworks because they introduce friends to other friends, and some people have smallernetworks because they tend to keep friends separate.The structure of the networkdepends on the whole and not just the sum of its parts.It is how it is arranged.In figure1 you can see how happiness (yellow) and sadness (blue) is spread contagiouslythroughout networks.This immediately asks the question – are our digital networksaffected in the same way?Christakis continues to explain; ‘We form social networksbecause the benefits of a connected life outweigh the costs’(Christakis, 2010).He also describes how the spread of good and valuable things are required to nourishand sustain social networks.If someone is violent or commits an unacceptable act thenwe tend to cut ties with them.But does this happen in the digital space?Is it thisemotional contagion that affects the way a campaign can accumulate strength and evenchange shape?Christakis concludes that positive and good emotions rely on socialnetworks, such as love and happiness.Brands haven’t quite realised the power of socialnetworks, and the strength they have for emotion overall, because otherwisethey wouldspend more time nourishing and sustaining them because they are fundamentallyrelated to goodness(Christakis, 2010).To understand cultural movements, we need to understand the people who start them,join them and ultimately push them forward to change the world around us.SociologistNeil Smelser in Goodson’s book Uprising theorises that movements: comeabout for a combination of reasons, starting with social strain.In the most extreme cases this strain may take the form of oppression, which in turn can spark revolutionary uprisings…today’s mini-movements are more often a response to a sense of dissatisfaction, restlessness, and concerns about the future(Goodson, 2012 Pg29). 10
  11. 11. So what can be learnt?We are more social than we think, and businesses that think theyare right to target consumers on an individual basis, with a targeted personal message,should reconsider.Earls even goes as far as to suggest that it is a near impossibletask.Getting people to care about something they don’t know is very difficult, but whenwe see, hear and learn about things around us we are more likely to act and this iswhere marketers have the opportunity to receive a response.However Goodsonconcludes this, looking to the future, that movements have the potential tobecomepersonalised, which could be the way to have the best of both worlds (Goodson,2012).I would also argue a key point for the advertising industry to learn here is thatemotion clearly leads to motivation, and this would explain why creating participatorymovements through social media is successful.The exchange of Tweets shown in Figure 2 sums up my chapter perfectly; emotions arecontagious, they motivate the spread of information and shape how social networks arearranged.Good and valuable things nourish social networks and so people will usecontent to do this.What brands need to do is provide this content and at the same timerelieve social strain.Figure 2: A recent Twitter conversation with Earls (2012), who points out what is crucialabout advertising communications and people. 11
  12. 12. Part Two:Case Study 1.Kony 2012, Invisible ChildrenPart Two aims to support and provide context for what has been explored in PartOne.Continuing on from a review of digital as a platform and how we think, behave andrespond, this section applies theory to digital campaign results to offer practical advicefor the advertising industry.Figure 3:Propaganda-style posters created as part of the kits for April 20th ‘cover thenight’; part of the campaign to make Kony famous in a bad way.Over the past 9 years, Invisible Children, a small charitable organisation has beenworking to find ways to grab the attention of policy makers worldwide, and form amovement to take action to arrest Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army inUganda.The highly emotive video Kony 2012went viral, it was watched globally withenormous support.However,after mass debate surrounding the accuracy of the video’sinformation, people responded with indifference.The campaign’s foundations were builton emotion, and as a result experienced a dramatic turnaround in response and thecampaign fell flat on its face when the emotions became negative.So how did the campaign get so big so quickly?They had been working for a goodnumber of years on Kony’s arrest; it just so happened that Kony 2012 ‘caughtfire’.Whilst visiting M&C Saatchi (2012) and speaking to Dusan Hamlin (joint CEO) hementioned how the best campaigns are rarely the first idea to be seeded.Infact it is oftenhighly recommended and practisedto ‘seed’ many small ideas in the hope that one willcatch on.Francis Bea who contributed to Digital Trendswrites how Invisible Children hadrealised the potential of the campaign going viral, and reportedthat a Reddit moderatordiscovered approximately 300 submissions of the video from various spam accountsaround one month before the film went viral(Digital Trends, 2012).What is interesting toquestion is; what are the influences on our decision-making process that enable videoslike these to go viral? 12
  13. 13. I would propose that a delicate combination of all theory examined in the previouschapter contributes to this process and as Bea continues to suggest it’s clear that social media can be as potent for spreading opinions as for spreading information…We’re so inundated with information from differing sources that our opinions become highly contingent on what our friends or influencers say’ (Digital trends, 2012).In our quick turnaround of news and real-time reporting, trusting our peers’ opinion isnot only easy, but also makes sense.It poses an opportunity for us to opt out of usingour rational thinking -system 2.Information couldtherefore spread throughout a networkquite successfully until it meets quite a strong opposing opinion, at which point it willchange direction or shape.As Christakis mentioned, social networks depend on beingnourished with positive emotions, and Kony did emerge with notions of sensationalism(Emergingcritic, 2009).At a staggering 30-minutes long, thevideo managed to maintain the engagement ofover104 million people.So what was it doing right?What struck me most about thecampaign was the quality of the video produced, the way the story was told and theorganisation that formed part of the message; they had dates, an outcome and even kitsto do so with (See figure 3).What is important overall is how the message isdelivered.The way the story is told, how it is directed using imagery, music and even thetone of voice.These elicit our emotional response and impacts how the message isreceived and remembered, and will impact how it is recalled if we see it again.We laydown our memories with emotions tagged to them (Cunniffe, 2011) and (Du Plessis,2005).In my opinion, Invisible Children delivered on these areas so well, that I thinkthey consciously made those decisions on their execution.The compromise in presentinga slick production that would elicit emotion was the cost of losing their authenticity andpassion about the cause as a grassroots movement, through amateur messaging.Kuntsman states that by telling the stories of the silenced and overlooked enabled thelives of these victims to be spoken of as both a personal and a global plea.The video wasa very personal story introducing Jason, his son and their Ugandan friend Jacob.Thehighly emotional video aimed to stir feelings of sadness, sympathy, disgust and evenhorror in an audience who is not there and unaware of the realities of this regime.Anaudience who it is hoped will take some responsibility and be incited into action onbothlocal and global levels(Karatzogianni & Kuntsman 2012).Kony 2012was an inspiring and motivating movement that captured people’s imaginationdue to a sense of initial trust, and possibility.It was a movementthat offered smalltangible actionsfor everyone who were emotionally urged into pasting up posters,wearing bracelets and sharing the video to make Kony infamous.It was easy to getinvolved.Cunniffe (2012) also suggested a reason for motivation is pro-socialbehaviour.This can be explained when a person voluntarily acts selflessly to help others,and it is mainly the consequence of their action (not their motivation) and can includebehaviours such as sharing, rescuing, comforting, and helping (Knickerbocker, n.d).When interviewing Hirst, he mentioned also how we are conditioned, like Kahnemansuggests, to think fast and ‘shout fire’ in order to ensure the survival of the rest of ourgroup, which is an example of prosocial behaviour.Kony 2012 could have provoked thisinstinctivebehaviour by getting us to empathise with Jacob and his friends, feel concern 13
  14. 14. for the welfare of the group and cooperate by digitally ‘shouting fire’ and sharing thevideo with our friends.It adds to our self-representation on social networks such asFacebook by projecting a notion of prosociality as part of our identity.This ultimatelyshows ourselves as caring people aware of what’s going on around us with a desire toprotect others in danger (Hirst, 2012a).Our choices are affected all the time.There is no such thing as a nudgeless choice.Ourirrational thinking happens when we see the benefits now, and the costs later.At thetime, it clearly seemed far more worthwhile for people to share, than not to.Theunknown cost later, was that the information sharedsurfaced as inaccurate (Thaler andSunstein, 2008).Also interesting to note, while not yet proven is the power of oxytocin in marketing.DrPaul Zak calls it the ‘moral molecule’- the chemical that makes us good (Zak, 2012) andcould explain why humans are capable of being both compassionate and violent.Oxytocinacts emotionally and even in our everyday lives can create feelings of trust, empathy,and a sense of deep intimate bonding.Zak noticed in experiments at emotional eventssuch as weddings, high levels of oxytocin were released, which resulted in a strongerbond between guests.This suggests that an event, such as watching the Kony video alone, which speaks on apeer-to-peer level could create empathy and cause the release of oxytocin, ‘which in itsturn increases the levels of trust leading to further empathy building behaviour’(Adliterate, 2012).Zak et al(2012) have already shown that giving oxytocin to peoplewho are then exposed to fundraising communications increases their averagedonationover untreated people.This not only assumes that a prior release of oxytocincould increase the impact of an advertisement, but Huntingdon also ultimately raises thesamequestion (see Pg.10); does emotion lead to action(Adliterate, 2012)?I asked Earls whether oxytocin could have been responsible for the initial trust in theKony 2012 campaign?Heresponded to my tweet (see figure 4) proposing that while itwas possible, the Kony campaign was most likely just lucky.I do agree to some extent,however I’m sure Invisible Children realised the importance of eliciting a high level ofempathy to ensure the video had maximum viral potential. 14
  15. 15. Figure 4: A conversation with Earls and Huntingdon on Twitter about the connectionbetween oxytocin and the trust people initially had in the information delivered byInvisible Children about Joseph Kony.Websites and platforms such as YouTube could form both objects & anchors offeelings.‘Digital culture itself can be a location for the investment of feelings such asanxiety and hope’ (Karatzogianni & Kuntsman, 2012, Pg6).This could explain whywebsites have become digital hubs, like the Kony 2012 website, where people are ableto meet others who share and support their views.People join these groups because theyare able to become more themselves.Almost immediately people are able to bond withinthese groups and can create digital archives of feelings (see figure 5) and use the groupsto help define their identity through an insiders versus outsiders mentality (Goodson,2012).Figure 5: Images posted to the Kony 2012 website after the April 20th ‘Cover the night’action, which illustrates the group’s investment of feelings during the event.When analysing the Kony website for signs of naming emotions and creating anchors offeelings, I noticed figure 6, which shows the line ‘Our Liberty Is Bound Together’ elicitingfeelings of guilt and responsibility.Invisible Children had clearly invested time in thebranding of this movement, almost taking cue from how the US government brands theirown wars.Clough in ‘Digital Cultures and The Politics of Emotion’ analyses suchgovernment tactics and I would argue that Kony 2012 had similar aims; interested in theprotection and or liberation of victims, to brand the charity as modern, progressive, civiland democratic.This may have been to encourage US and other world leaders to get onboard with their movement (Karatzogianni & Kuntsman 2012). 15
  16. 16. Figure 6: The slick Kony 2012 website is one example of why Invisible Children werecriticized for focusing more attention and budget to the marketing of the charity ratherthan on-the-ground change.Clough continues to explain how this leaves us to be ‘ever engaged in alleviating theeffects of war’ and ‘endlessly moving us within an effective circuit that gives us thesensations of being both victimizing and victimized, accusing and accused, shaming andshamed, guilty and innocent’ (Karatzogianni & Kuntsman 2012 pg.22).Figure 6: shows Jason Russell’s son, who appeared in the Kony video and changed theway the message was received by the viewer.The Kony video was very much part of its dramatic rise and fall.Some viewers werecaptured by the slick emotionality of the story told, others were left skeptical andrevolted.A response to the Jezebel blog stated ‘It doesnt really present itself as beingabout the children as much as it presents itself as being about the movement.They arenot the same thing and can dangerously be confused I think’ (Jezebel, 2012).YaleProfessor, Chris Blattman says ‘The movie feels like it’s about the filmmakers, not thecause.There might be something to the argument that American teenagers are morelikely to relate to an issue through the eyes of a peer’ (Jezebel, 2012).This would backup why the video was so popular with students aged 18, and may have been purposelydirected to speak on a peer level in order to spark action through emotion in this agegroup.As the campaign spread across Facebook and Twitter and gained copious views onYouTube, reactions and comments began to accumulate strength and opinion, and itsurfaced that Invisible Children’s facts were not entirely accurate and their charitableactions not so squeaky clean.Ahmed in The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004) raises the 16
  17. 17. insightful notion of texts having emotionality, and explores emotions as the point ofcontact between the individual and the social.Kuntsman adds to this, the concept ofreverberation as opposed to representation and evaluates it as a concept that makes us attentive to the simultaneous presence of speed and stillness in online sites; to distortions, and resonance, intensification and dissolution in the process of moving through digital terrains…It can allow us to see how the movement of violent words online can intensify hatred and hostility’…where the power of emotions accumulate through the circulation of texts’(Karatzogianni & Kuntsman, 2012 pg.2).This can be interpreted as emotionally charged comments were made; reverse emotionswere experienced such as embarrassment, disappointment, confusion andindifference.This was a movement that was slowly unraveling in momentum, as moreinformed opinions interrupted its flow.Trust and possibility turned into anger anddisillusion.Unlike conversation in the physical world, digital environments preserve andarchive thoughts and feelings.In addition because of the speed at which peopleparticipate, comments can become difficult to delete.Something I believe is troubling ourfast and emotional response mechanisms.In today’s digital terrain, how necessary is itfor us to use system 2, to maintain our desired self-representation and nourish socialnetworks appropriately?Kuntsman extends her concept of reverberation with the notion of ‘cybertouch andaffective fabrics’ and examines how some digital assets that circulate online create a‘regime of suspicion’ where people are skeptical of digitalized evidence that is at risk ofbeing ‘fabricated’ and therefore fails to move, and causes annoyance or mockery insteadof compassion.She continues to explain that it is not only the digital technology itselfthat causes skeptical disbelief, but also the endless versions of videos, texts and imagesthat are posted online.It can be hard to know what is true and real (Karatzogianni &Kuntsman, 2012, pg3).Jenkins (2006) explains this effect by: The Internet has not only brought about new demands to participate but new demands for knowledge and information too.As we develop a participatory culture we also create knowledge sharing communities, where groups of people with similar interests are held together through the mutual production and reciprocal exchange of knowledge(Pg.27).Jenkins continues to explain that more importantly they serve as places for ‘collectivediscussion, negotiation and development’.Individual members in some cases areencouraged to seek out new information for the common good.Whether this bediscussing future television series, commercial products, news, politics or evenorganisations.It provokes us to ‘know what can be known’ (Jenkins 2006).Some of the comments found in response to the Kony 2012 video, convey Jenkin’snotion, but also show the emotionality of their texts and their indifferent response to theinaccurate information discovered: ‘PLEASE ON NEXT VIDEO TELL HOW YOU LEARNEDTHE RUSSEL EARNINGS AND THE INVISIBLES…EARNINGS ,TELL MORE OF COUNTRYMENRESPONSE’ (aggabus, 2012). Also, ‘YO NOBODY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT THIS SHITANYMORE LOL!!!!!’ (Ballboy 101, 2012), and ‘I hope this Kony 2012 makes peoplesmarter so now they think twice before someone says there is some bad guy out there(RagingDemon99, 2012). 17
  18. 18. As people begin to realise the exaggerated facts of the emotional campaign, opinionreverses and becomes realigned, and in my mind acts out just like the Mexican wave; anaction that Earls highlights as an example of Herd behaviour (Earls, 2009).Overall, what needs to be considered consciously when planning a campaign is why andwhat pushes people to click ‘share’.Invisible Children’s biggest downfall was Hollywood-polished communications, too much focus on themselves, and inaccurate information -all unexpected ingredients of a grassroots movement, passionate about positivechange.However, it provoked an unprecedented emotional response through apersonalstory and is a good example that shows digital is not about faceless communications,and that ultimately your main goal is to drive an action with the help of your fans thatencourage others to copy their behaviour.What it got right, that many don’t, is whatGensemer suggests as vital is not to use‘digital as another channel for direct mail’(Gensemer, 2012).What follows is afinal case analysis of The Best Job In The World campaign, but I willalso draw on the successful digital campaign Obama 2008 to support my evaluation ofwhat can sustain action and engagement, and which strategies can elicit desirableresponses from the public. 18
  19. 19. Case Study 2: The Best Job in the World.Named the ‘Best Marketing Campaign Ever’ (Fast Company, 2009), The QueenslandTourist Boardcreated international awareness of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef toglobal experience seekers (See figures 7 & 8).They wanted to offer something priceless;a prize that wasn’t a prize that would capture the imagination of people around theworld, this prize was a job.A caretaker was required for the idyllic Hamilton Islandoffering a rent-free luxury apartment and a salary of $80k and anyone could apply!Figure 7 shows how the campaign started offline with worldwide classified advertisingbefore it went online to recruitment websites and social networks.An engaging websitewas built, social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter were used, as well asonline banners to build an on and offline ecology (See Figure 8).Figure 7: The classified advertising was distributed to the 8 leading markets, whosepopulations showed most potential to visit Australia.Figure 8: The website and other Media channels used to drive traffic and awareness ofthe Best Job campaign. 19
  20. 20. The rest was down to applicant video submissions and ‘fortuitous PR and word of mouth’(Fast company, 2009).Applicants also began to initiate their own mini campaigns to gainvotes and support from friends and their friends on Facebook, creating a swarm effect onbehalf of the Queensland Tourist Board (Goodson, 2012).The campaign quickly earned global media attention, which totalled $80 million invalue.It‘achieved stunning results, including over 34,000 video entries from applicants in200 countries, and more than 7 million visitors to the site who generated nearly 500,000votes’(Fast Company, 2009).So what did it do right?Apart from being a really simple yet inspiring idea, it was apparently highly orchestratedfrom the top down, because the agency had big targets to meet; global awareness on arelatively paltry budget of less than 2 million pounds.Therefore timing was crucial, andso were structured phases of participation.It was important to launch the campaignbefore the Obama inauguration to avoid getting lost, but to also ride off the film releaseAustralia.They needed, just like the Obama campaign itself, to be agile and able to altertheir plans whenever opportunities arose (Wanderlust, 2009).The idea was proactive,valuable, and offered water-cooler conversations on and offline.The initial classifiedadvertising was unexpected and refreshing and is a perfect example of how a brand canallowthe consumer to effectively become the story and tell it on their behalf.This createdauthentic messaging and trust,as it was told on a peer-to-peer level.Nassim Nicholas Taleb might suggest that the campaign’s success was down to luckrather than planned and pre-meditated skill.He coined the Black Swan theory, whichproposes that random events that are a surprise to the observer can produce huge andunexpected results, which are often inappropriately rationalised with hindsight.Thiswould pose that Nitro had no way of knowing that the campaign would be a success andthat a formula for such large impacts are impossible (Taleb, 2012).Other cultural ‘BlackSwans’ include the computer, religion, and Harry Potter.This theory explains the need to‘seed’ content due to the unpredictable nature of what can go viral.Neil Mortensonet al who contributed to IPA@ConnectedUK (2012) explains that we notonly want to be heard by brands but by our peers too, and is the reason why audiencescontinue to evolve around conversation and sharing.When the public form part of thebrand’s story it is a way for others to get closer to the action using ‘friendly technology’such as social networks.The audience’s voice through votes and conversation enablethem to be ‘acknowledged and accepted’ as well as become ‘part of the messaging’(Infovision, 2012).Best Job In The World offered different types of action in the form of creating contentthrough video applications, votes and comments, which are important when speaking tolarge audiences.Gensemer did exactly the same with the Obama campaign and admitsthat at one time he had 300 different messages going out to different states in the U.S.Some of the things he mentions that are key are: audience segmentation, finding timelyopportunities to engage through different types of action (E.g.votes or donations),builtaround people’s interests, and what people around them are doing.This supports whatEarls suggested previously in Figure 2 (Gensemer, 2012).Figure 9 shows a wonderful example of Blue State Digital acting on timely opportunitiesto use super fans actions to encourage others of similar interests to mimicits behaviour,which was possible through audience database segmentation. 20
  21. 21. Figure 9: Shows replicated Obama logos across barns in rural states.The Obama campaign enlisted a group of ‘watchdogs’ to report any negative or wrongnews to enable BSD to react to this as soon as possible to knock any negativity on thehead.In my view this makes alliances with super fans and thanks them, it enables thefan to feel closer to the action and build advocates who can help pass on positivefeelings throughout the networks (Gensemer, 2012).However, The Best Job In The Worlddid experience a minor setback, when they toobegan to seed fake material.A video story about a woman, who tattooed anadvertisement on her arm for the Great Barrier Reef,was posted.Agency Cummins Nitrohad the intention of hinting to viewers the kinds of people and applications they werehoping for.But they were soon found out and people began to complain.The secondaudience complaint came when they found out how Ben Southall (the winner) had beenso busy keeping up a ‘wish you were here’ image through blogging, tweeting andinterviews, it left him exhausted and unable to relax and explore the island as initiallyadvertised (Telegraph, 2012).The lesson here is transparency, and delivering what youadvertised.Ruin the investment of feelings that people put into your idea, and a like-minded group has the power to bring yourcampaign crashing down.But why were people attracted to the idea of the campaign in the firstplace?Cunniffe(2012), proposed self-schemas as one possible reason; the tourism boardhad specifically identified ‘experience seekers’ as their target audience, and through apsychological belief or idea about oneselfschemas can lead to a self-perpetuatingbias.They are used to guide relevant information processing towards the self, and areimportant to a person’s overall self-concept.The campaign would have appealed topeople who had self-schemas similar to experience seeking, and they may evenhaveapplied out of expectation than desire (Wilderdom, 2003).The innovation of digital as a platformhas allowed the co-creation of content by fans andfollowers and has facilitated story telling on the brands behalf.The Best Job in The Worldcampaign had two phases – the initial video applications and Ben’s final diaries.Not onlywere the videos on the level of peer recommendations, offering positive reasons to 21
  22. 22. spend time on the island, they had relevant and engaging content for other people in thegroup with experience seeking self-schemas too.This offers a reason as to why peoplecontinued to engage in the campaign after the position had been filled.The following can be deduced from the Best Job in the World campaign: whencommunicating with large audiences; it is important to segment them into perhapslocation and interests, and usemultiple messaging to allow different actions withinsmaller groups.The campaign also demonstrated the ability to have greater amounts ofcontrol through structured participation in social media.We have also seen success whenincluding audiences as part of the messaging, due to a desire to be acknowledged andaccepted.The power of PRcan often be far more valuable than a full-time dedicatedcommunity manager particularly with small budgets to spend.What follows this is a final and overall conclusion to all of my research on the digitalmedium, our social behaviour, response mechanisms and campaign analysis. 22
  23. 23. Conclusion:The subject of my thesis; how the public respond to digital campaigns, is a relativelynew one for the advertising industry. Therefore, I felt it was important to look at bothconcrete theory and new thinking, as a way of making connections and progress, to offersomething credible and provoking for the advertising industry to learn from.When interviewing Hirst, he confirmed that the government were very much attemptingto implement new theory into their communications.In his opinion, a vast majority of thecommercial industry is reading the books and isaware of what could be improved, buthas not yet integrated theseideas into their brand strategiesandplanning (Hirst, 2012b).Ido believe that planners will need to consciously consider aspects of my thesis whenplanning campaigns in order to use the digital medium to its full potential, particularlythe idea that emotions lead to action, as well as our need to spread positive emotionsand content.Audiences will facilitate the spread of a campaign positively in order tonourish and sustain their networks, which is good news for the advertising industry andillustrates the importance of emotion in social media.The future of commercial digital communications, in my opinion, certainly lies aroundemotion, people, places and big passionate ideas, but these must be kept authentic andmost importantlyof all, socially interactive and transparent.Kony 2012and The Best Jobin The World campaigns were successful in that they had a social perspective; theyweren’t faceless direct marketing communications.They both spoke on a peer-to-peerlevel and, whether intuitive or not, their producers ‘got’ social media.It is hard to makepeople really care and after that take action, but I can’t help questionat what point willpeople begin to tire of it?I think future movements which emulate the style of the Kony2012 campaign are going to have to be more fun and imaginative, because asmovement marketing becomes more widely used, not only will people become moresceptical over footage they will also become more selective in how and what theyparticipate in.Digital architectures become highly emotionally charged sites of expression, as theypreserve the feelings and emotions of people’s opinions and actions.Kony 2012 and TheBest Job in The World have taught us that audiences look for co-collaboration andplatforms with tools that encourage the replication of behaviours to expressthemselves.Advertisers need to be aware of this and should capitalise on this energywith segmented phases of action to channel emotions appropriately and positively.Wecannot change the way the medium moves or becomes archived, which makes timingand content strategies important as ever.This is why digital and the potential for massscale interaction is so much more powerful than TV, movements can change history.Idon’t think we will be able to change our fast emotional thinking, but I do think we arelearning from our mistakes, and becoming more cautious of what we do not fullyunderstand.As digital sites become hubs of emotion, I begin to question if engagementleads to happy audiences?But what if brands were to make people happy?Would thisearn them further engagement?It’s time to forget the word ‘individual’ and replace this with ‘personal’.I can only guessthe structure of our digital networks are a macrocosm of our physical socialnetworks.Will our social networks become more niche and intimate as audiences aresegmented for targeted actions and opinions or will the future of personalisedmovements mean they just feel more intimate? 23
  24. 24. So what else can the advertising industry learn?The web is a social revolution that isenabling ideas to take shape and spread.It’s a wonderful time for human creativity andadvertisers should embrace this potential.Don’t be foolish enough to fake content, lie orbe out-of-date, biased or offensive, the truth should be more interesting.Both Kony 2012and The Best Job in The World made a least one of these mistakes.We live in a culturenow where ‘you are what you share’.Be social on and offline, the audience is taking tothe stage, as everyone has the ability to participate and access to the web.Timing ismore crucial than ever, as campaigns live and breathe in real-time, everyone can speakat once and the sheer volume of information is becoming confusing.It isn’t really asurprise that random ideas take-off.Whether Kony 2012 and The Best Job in The Worldwere Black Swansor not, the unexpected is refreshing and unusual and suggest thatthere is no generic formula for success.When planning a digital campaign, consider theimplications of the emotion it will elicit, curate an experience around this and personalisecall-to-action messaging, to ensure structured and desirable responses. 24
  25. 25. Picture Credits:Figure 1:Pg.9Nicholas Christakis, diagram of emotional contagion theory. Screen grab [video online]Source: 2: Pg.11 Kony 2012 postersSource: 3: Pg. 13 Screen grab of my Twitter feedSource: 4: Pg. 14 Screen grab of the Kony 2012 websiteSource: www.kony2012.comFigure 5: Pg. xx Shows the photos uploaded to the Kony 2012 website for ‘Cover the Night’.Source: 6: Pg.14 Image of Jason Russel’s son who appeared in Kony 2012 videoSource: 7: Pg. 18 shows the classified newspaper advertisement for Best Job in the World campaign.Source: 8: Pg. 18 shows the media channels used inBest Job in World campaignSource: 9: Pg. 18 Shows screen grab [video online] the replication of the Obama logo across barns in rural statesSource: 1. Ahmed, S. (2004) The Cultural Politics Of Emotion. USA, Routledge. 2. Airely, D. (2009) Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions. USA, Harper Collins. 3. Doveling, K. (2012)The Routledge Handbook of Emotions and Mass Media. USA, Taylor & Francis. 4. Du Plessis, E. (2005) The Advertised Mind: Groundbreaking Insights Into How Our Brains Respond To Advertising. London, Millward Brown. 5. Earls, M. (2009)Herd: How To Change Mass Behaviour By Harnessing Our True Nature. England, Whiley Ltd. 6. Goodson, S. (2012) Uprising: How To Build A Brand – And Change The World- By Sparking Cultural Movements. USA, McGraw Hill. 7. Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide. New York. NYU Press. 8. Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking Fast and Slow. UK. Penguin Books 9. Karatzogianni, A.& Kuntsman, A. (2012) Digital Cultures and the Politics of Emotion: feelings, affect and technological change. London, Palgrave Macmillan. 10. Reis, A. & Trout, J. (2001) Positioning: The Battle for your mind. USA, McGraw-Hill. 11. Ryan, D & Jones, C. (2011) The Best Digital Marketing Campaigns in the world. Kogan-Page, UK. 25
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