Imagine having the ability to translate virtual reality into actual reality.
Roeland Ramakers of EEN, the Dutch affiliate of the ONE Campaign, found a way by launching the world's first real-life virtual protest. His creative and unusual campaign merged online activism with offline action, and combines the power of the web with live demonstration. The result shows a possible future direction of a new kind of protest for the new generation. By creating avatars to represent online protesters, Ramaker has twice used a unique approach to get tangible results.
Though the web is useful for connecting people around a single cause on a global scale, this support is often difficult to express offline. GCAP, an international campaign fighting to raise awareness about poverty was struggling with this issue. To impact the World Bank's anti-poverty policies, GCAP needed to show tangible grassroots support, difficult considering that its millions of members were spread out over 100 countries. The success of ONE's real-life virtual demonstration at the Hague was promising, and GCAP wanted to use the strategy to protest at the World Bank.
Implementing the Campaign:
- Launching the campaign from Hyves.nl, the Dutch network that almost 1/3 of the country is a member of was key component of success. It allowed them to circumvent the hassle of asking users to fill in their information. Through Hyves, members could join the effort in just one click.
- The send-a-friend function was another notable contributor. Though few used it, (about 5,000 people), each person on average forwarded the message to 80 people! Which meant 400,000 free emails sent between friends and family.
- Presenting the banner ads in a way that linked them to the Hyves site was another excellent marketing strategy that led to a much higher click through rate. Ads liked to the site had a .6% rate as opposed to .3% without the connection. The sites brand was used successfully to translate legitimacy to the campaign's cause, and is a strategy worthy of further exploration in future campaigns.
6 employees and 2 interns, all working on other projects were responsible for the successful campaign launch with over 100,000 online participants who created 1,000 avatars online. The only use of volunteers involved carrying avatars from Utrecht to The Hague.
Securing free printing and designs for the avatars was an effective way to cut campaign costs. Overall $15,000 was spent on Hyves advertising, $10,000 in other costs and about $10,000 to transport the avatars.
Huge list growth--50,000 email addresses, of which 99% were Dutch.
Additionally, $10,000 to $15,000 was raised through avatar sponsoring; though most sponsoring came in the form of free services, (ie: free printing, and advertising in the form of media coverage).
Lessons Learned and Keys to Success:
Thinking of a novel idea was a big part, responsible for the campaign's high volume of free press coverage. Holding the demonstration in a popular and central location also contributed to spreading awareness.
Ramaker notes that the huge success of this campaign has caused them to adapt campaign strategies to social networks.
- Making avatars that were aesthetically pleasing made the event ideal for the media to cover because of their reliance on images to convey news
These are just some of the many pieces of advice that came from our interview with Roeland Ramaker, read on for the complete interview and details of a highly successful campaign strategy!
1. The Plan: What was the strategy behind the avatar campaign and the general description?
your email lists? Buy advertising? Did you already have a large network of "friends" on Hyves before the campaign started? Or was this campaign responsible for growing your Hyves network?
and rewarding for newspapers, magazines, and TV to print/show them. For all media except radio, you mostly want something that is eye-catching and the fact that they were triggered the sponsoring opportunities.