This week The Economist announced a new campaign, “Where do you stand?” The campaign poses provocative statements on posters: Prisoners should/should not be allowed to vote. Drugs should/should not be legalized. Trading human organs should/should not be allowed.
Each poster includes a few key facts around each issue that make committing a lot harder than you might initially think. For example, in favor of selling human organs it declares:
There is a desperate shortage of organs. Around 1000 people die each year in Britain waiting for a transplant.
In 1988, Iran changed the law to allow people to sell their kidneys. Within three years, the country no longer had a waiting list for kidney transplants.
Banning the sale of organs drives the trade underground. That makes transplants riskier for both donors and recipients.
It then asks you to text your answer to the designated number in return for a free copy of The Economist. Presumably the magazine will aggregate answers and publish results.
In many ways the new campaign is brilliant. It demonstrates the thought provoking nature of The Economist, turns you into a participant rather than a reader, and gets you to actually think in the process.
While the posters primary call to action is to text your answers, it’s also cool that the magazine has created a new Facebook page where the debate can take place on line.
(Note that I have modified this post from the original. When I had initially checked The Economist Facebook page there was no mention of the campaign. Nor did it appear on their site. But shortly after this post went live, suggesting that The Economist had missed an opportunity by not extending the conversation to Facebook and elsewhere, I received a note from Jamie Credland, a marketer for The Economist who corrected me. Gotta love social media.)
If the initial news announcement in The Guardian is correct, the campaign runs for a mere two weeks. I find that a bit perplexing as it seems this is an idea with a much longer life.
But on the positive side we have a traditional medium and an advertiser that realizes a reader isn’t simply a reader but a participant, content generator and distribution channel. I’m willing to bet that The Economist will see the debate and dialog continue long after the posters come down and that this will not only be the beginning of another great campaign from the magazine that brought us the great red and white posters of the past, it may be something we see copied elsewhere.
So, is this the new advertising? Where do you stand?
Here are some links that I’ve been able to find so far. Perhaps there will be more to come from The Economist and its agency AMV BBDO. If you find out anything else, please share.
The posters in Campaign
Story in The Guardian
The agency behind it: AMV BBDO
Faris’s Blog: Talent Imitates, Genius Steals