This week Scotland became the first nation in the world to make period products free for all; a ground-breaking policy that’s a key step in addressing period poverty, reducing the shame and secrecy of periods, and changing mindsets and attitudes.
Similarly, in January, Stripe asked people to stop with the euphemisms that stigmatise menstruation and instead say it straight and just ‘call periods, periods.’ A campaign we’re proud to have delivered and one of the many social marketing campaigns that we’ve deployed over the past decade for the Scottish Government, confronting everything from excessive alcohol consumption, to reducing knife crime and increasing plastic bag use.
View this post on Instagram
While these campaigns are wildly diverse, they all share a common goal; to change attitudes and ultimately behaviour long term.
Every one of the 40+ campaigns we’ve devised and delivered have tested our thinking, our understanding and regularly made us rethink what we thought we knew…but no-one ever said championing change was easy! So, what’s the key to delivering campaigns that really make a difference and can change social norms?
- Challenge – be bold in your approach and your ideas. Change isn’t easy; it’s scary and difficult, but you won’t get the results you want if you always play it safe. Some of the most successful results have come from campaigns that highlighted an uncomfortable truth, made people realise they did that very thing, or had that very attitude. Confronting an issue head on often gives the standout you need. So, if you believe in it, stand up for it! We did this when we commissioned a ‘Drinking Mirror’ app showing what you would look like in 10 years’ time of you continued drinking at your current rate. We hit a nerve with the audience and media and secured over 800 media articles and 470,000 downloads.
- Immersion – it’s obvious but understanding the issue and the audience is key and often this means leaving your own experience or viewpoint at the door. Resonance often comes after an issue is stripped back to the single most compelling insight, motivating factor or barrier to change, and addressing that head on.
- Empathise – no point preaching, you’ll just alienate. Instead put yourself in their shoes; how do they feel, what’re they afraid of, what’s stopping them, what do they need or want to make change? If you can appreciate the challenge from a different point of view, you’re more likely to increase engagement, acceptance and change long-term.
- Normalise – once you were weird if you recycled your egg boxes or took your own bags shopping, now it’s frowned up on if you don’t. That’s the power of normalising the desired behaviour and switching the narrative to celebrate those that do, and stigmatise those that don’t.
- Engage – put simply, reflect the audience, talk their language, live in their world, use simple, fluff-free explanations, and make a clear ask. Use spokespeople they admire or respect or have walked in their shoes. Get feedback, listen, learn, and overall make it believable and achievable. In the past we’ve used testimony from knife crime victims to show the devastating impact it has on real lives, ultimately driving more resonance with the youth target audience than anything else.
Five points that make the steps to change seem simple, sadly it’s not. Our talented planners and strategists work hard to get under the skin of every issue, to find the golden nugget for each campaign that we can use to engage audiences, drive media, excite influencers, drive social content and help make change happen.
Attitudinal and behaviour change doesn’t happen overnight, but with multiple award-winning campaigns under our belt, it’s a challenge we relish and rewarding work we enjoy. And whether we like it or not, one thing is certain; change is constant!