Getting people to ‘do something’ is a key objective of any marketing campaign. Getting people to buy a product, use a service, donate to a charity, or spread the word about a brand is hard enough, but what if you are trying to promote an idea?
Not just any idea either. Trying to sell peace in the Middle East to Israelis and Palestinians would hardly be described as an easy task, but a recent $250,000 campaign produced by the Geneva Initiative (a joint Israeli-Palestinian project), and funded by the US agency for international development, attempted to do just that.
The three-week campaign features online videos of Palestinian peace negotiators appealing to Israelis to work together and ends by asking “I am your partner. Are you my partner?” and featured on leading news websites in Israel, Y-net, Ha’aretz and NRG. The videos have received 150,000 views so far and the ads also featured in daily newspapers and across billboards.
A key part of the video was that the negotiators began by saying ‘Shalom’ - the Hebrew word for ‘hello’ and ‘peace’ - which creative director Ron Assouline says made the audience open up more, likening it to when “Madonna saying a few words in Hebrew on stage and Israeli fans go wild”.
Other online ads were designed to look like Facebook friend requests, with the negotiators asking to be your partner. Users can click confirm or ignore, but if they click ignore they are met with the message, "Even if you ignore them, they won't disappear."
With such a controversial subject matter the campaign is not going to please everyone. Tamir Shefer, a professor of political communication at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is reported as saying that “it probably won't work” and Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian prime minister, felt that rather than bring people together, the ad campaign would manage to tick people off.
Assouline is already working on further campaigns with the Geneva Initiative, but admits that he would change his approach next time. “I would do it in a different way. I would take the man on the street from Israel and put him on the Palestinian street. And not the leadership. I would use real people. I would help them see us the way we want to see them,” he told The World radio programme.
Posted on behalf of Lynsey Barber