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7 campaigns that have impressed me in 2017

Christmas is a time for lists, so over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a few of mine as another year of campaigning comes to a conclusion. To kick off I wanted to share a few of the campaigns that have caught my eye in 2017.

This isn’t an awards list (there are other places you can go to recognise award-winning campaigning) and the criteria for inclusion is just that I’ve spotted (or someone else did) and I think they’ve got some interesting learning for all campaigners behind them;

1. Momentum – Whatever your views on the movement that has been the engine behind Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party, and then his almost election as Prime Minister back in June, the way the campaign has harnessed the energy behind Corbyn and deployed it effectively are outstanding.
Their lean approach, embracing initiatives like Grime for Corbyn, working with developers, activists and designers to apps like ‘Carpool’ and push out some of the most creative content on social media around the election has helped to transform UK politics. Even Conservative politicians have written admiringly about what Momentum is able to deliver.

2. Greenpeace – as the nation has been gripped by Blue Planet 2, Greenpeace has once again been able to deliver another brilliant campaign that’s got people talking about the amount of plastic we’re dumping into our oceans and creating space for a wider conversation about we can all be doing to reduce our waste. The focus on Coca-Cola, a well-known brand which is sensitive to criticism, has once again worked captured the imagination, alongside brilliant content like this film. And while Coke might still be holding out – although experience will suggest that Greenpeace rarely fail when they have a target in their sights – the wider conversation is already shifting with Government on the introduction of a bottle deposit return scheme and other companies looking to take a step to reduce the amount of plastic waste they’re producing.

3. Stop Funding Hate – While this campaign might have started in 2006, is consistent drip feed of wins has ensured it’s stayed in the public consciousness throughout the year, able to respond to continued stories of hate and division. The campaign approach is simple, focus on those companies who advertise in the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express, and get them to agree to stop paying for adverts. With companies like Lego, Body Shop, Paperchase and others agreeing to stop placing adverts in the papers the campaign effectively uses social media to create a storm that appears to shift opinion. And you know that you’re having an impact when the papers you’re targetting start to use column inches to attack you.

4. Indivisible – the election of Donald Trump has, perhaps unsurprisingly, led to the proliferation of campaigns to resist his agenda. Foremost amongst these has been Indivisible which started as a Google Doc guide about what those who resisted Donald Trumps agenda could do, but has quickly turned into a whole movement of individuals across the US, inspired to recreate the influence of the Tea Party, and rooted in what Congressional staffers know works, contacts from local electors.

A year later over 2 million people have downloaded the guide, over 5,000 groups have formed and they held tens of thousands of events. Quite a success, but another dividend of the continued campaigning to protect Obamacare, challenge the Muslim Ban, stop the tax cut, and beyond has led to a proliferation in cool tech that helps activist, like ResistBot which faxes your Congressperson from a text or 5Calls which  provides you with the 5 most important phone calls you can make from the comfort of your laptop.

5. Amnesty Football Welcome – there are a couple of campaigns that I’ve spotted this year that have looked to use the power of sport, and especially Football. Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign seems to go from the strength to strength, becoming a fixture on the agenda of all Premier League clubs each November. But it was Amnesty Football Welcomes campaign back in April that I really love. Recognising the national passion for football, and the long history many clubs have in involving refugees in their team, the campaign aimed to make that link as part of Amnesty’s wider ‘I Welcome’ campaign. Really smart approach to a sometimes challenging topic.

6. Stop Adani – I have to be honest I wasn’t aware of this campaign until I asked others for recommendations, but as Jason Mogus says few campaigns have gone from ‘almost completely losing, to almost completely winning, in just under a year’. The campaign which is about stopping a huge open coal mine in Queensland, Australia, was credited by the Economist as almost certainly swinging the result of the recent state elections, and as Jason writes in this excellent post the approach was tight theory of change – build a movement, stop the money then shift the politics. A reminder at the end of an exhausting year of campaigning that anything is possible if you have a strong, clear and effective theory of change.

7. Scrap the Cap – It’s been a year of change in UK politics, but with Brexit dominating the discussion it’s been hard to see many campaigns on other issues cut through. But one that has clearly been successful is the Royal College of Nursing Scrap the Cap campaign was one that’s managed to shift the current government agenda, with a commitment in October by the government to remove the 1% pay cap on NHS workers. The campaign has looked to harness a really nice mix of tactics all involving NHS workers, using social media and focusing on local meeting with MPs of all parties.

What campaigns have inspired or impressed you in 2017? Comment below to join the conversation.


1 Comment

Ellie Kennedy

Great article Tom. I’m going to big up my own campaign here (not sure if this is good practice or not…) but Together for Refugees has been a unique 2017 campaign bringing together humanitarian agency the International Rescue Committee and friendly, well loved ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s. In the year after a lot of focus was given to the global migration crisis, this unlikely partnership has tried to maintain focus on the toxic situation facing refugees even if it has fallen out of the public eye. With a particular focus on EU legislation on refugee resettlement in Europe, we have tried to make this issue accessible to an ice cream loving audience and build support and solidarity in a Brexit-heavy, Trump dominated climate. Whilst it may not be the catchiest of campaign names. there’s some very clever and engaging content in here, bringing together ice cream and EU migration policy! So please do check it out and help us stand #Together4Refugees

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