An Israeli graphic designer’s poster campaign to prevent war between his country and Iran is a viral hit on the Web, and now people around the world are designing and sharing their own posters with the same purpose of peace. It turns out marketing can do much more than sell a product; it can sell peace.
Enemies of war are almost always defined by the nations at war, not the people of those nations, but isn’t that rather unfair? After all, the media can only thrive in the midst of conflict, and that means we’ll only see the worst of our “enemies” when we watch TV, listen to the radio, or browse our favorite blogs. But what happens when we aim to see our supposed enemies as brothers, simple folk just trying to make it in this world? That’s what Ronny Edry has achieved with his non-profit campaign to illustrate the commonality and bonds that we share with the people of the nations that our political leaders hope to shoot and bomb
At TEDxJaffa, Edry shared his story with an eager crowd of marketers and out-of-the-box thinkers. It all started when he listened in on two people casually discussing War against Iran as if it was just another topic in the news, and that’s when he began thinking about how he could change the way we all perceive Iran, or at least the people of Iran. His answer to the problem would be in graphic design, a poster campaign to be more specific. As a graphic designer, this was the obvious way forward.
His first poster would feature his own daughter, a simple shot of his daughter in his arms with an Israeli flag in her hand. The poster reads, “Iranians, We <3 You.” It quickly went viral all over the Web, and then…
"…I start answering this girl [on Facebook], and she’s telling me she saw the poster and she asked her family to come, because they don’t have a computer. She asked her family to come to see the poster, and they’re all sitting in the living room crying…
So my first reflex, as a graphic designer, is, you know, to show everybody what I’d just seen, and people started to see them and to share them, and that’s how it started … I went to my neighbors and friends and students and I just asked them, ‘Give me a picture, I will make you a poster.’ … And that’s how, really, [it] unleashed, because suddenly people from Facebook, friends and others, just understand that they can be part of it. It’s not just one dude making one poster, it’s — we can be part of it”
It seems that when regular, everyday people realize that their supposed enemies are also regular, everyday people just like themselves - people just going to work, raising their families and reaching for their own dreams - the conversation about potential war shifts to a conversation about potential peace. And if this conversation continues, the politicians in either nation may not have the support that they need to volunteer their people to slaughter others and to be slaughtered themselves.
The campaign continues to be a hit on the Web and in the physical world as well. This sensation is spreading not just in the Middle East but in all nations, such as the United States, where war is a very real possibility in the next few years.
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Many brands engage in social welfare as a way to pursue bigger profits, but the reality is the charity ploy often takes a backseat to the profit ploy. In the hopes of reversing that trend, Coca-Cola launched several soda machines that actually have a tangible, instant and witness-able effect on the company’s larger and more charitable goal of world peace.
Coca-Cola’s “Small World” machines are soda machines that feature a Skype-like interface, which enables one machine to launch a video call with a second machine as long as the second machine is located in a country that is currently at war with the country of the first machine. To reward users for initiating a Small World session, it offers both recipients a free can of sweet cola.
The soda company installed the innovative soda machines in some of the busiest parts of India and Pakistan, which are currently locked in a state of brutal war against each other. As a result, a session instantly connects two supposed mortal enemies as they both pursue a good time and a break from the feud.
The concept is rather cute, and I wouldn’t blame you if you cried during the video. More important to the bottom line, the marketing buzz the campaign continues to generate since the machines launched in late May seems to cover the cost of the free soda and the machines themselves. Furthermore, Coca-Cola has an interest in keeping the peace: warring nations don’t often waste precious resources on the luxury of soda. But the same can be said about most other businesses, so I guess we can all profit from some good-ol’-fashioned peace.
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