Refugee Referee: A crisis with no end in sight

Syrian refugees are a part of the 10.6 million refugees worldwide forced to flee their homes as a result of conditions in their country. The current number of Syrian refugees who have sought asylum in other countries totals 4.3 million (UNDP). This movement has been the greatest migration of people on the European continent since World War II.

Following the 2011 Arab Spring protests and the resulting violent civil war that followed, there has been an estimated 9 million Syrians who have been forced to flee their dwellings. Nearly half of these displaced civilians are still stuck inside the country, while the other half have been able to relocate to different nations. However, even those who have successfully made it into other countries are not guaranteed favorable conditions. For instance, those migrants who have been found attempting to enter nations without allowance are often placed in refugee camps that consist of mere tents and sparse food and water.

The cooperation of everyone in the international community to  accept and assist refugees can help to reduce the number of people living in these conditions. However, the economic and increasingly political repercussions of accepting Syrian refugees has recently made this conflict incredibly polarizing. The expected economic burden of taking in thousands of refugees is overwhelming and the recent terror attacks in Paris that were carried out by the Islamic extremist group ISIS have made the Syrian refugee crisis even more controversial.

Using the hashtag refugee crisis (#refugeecrisis) to filter through Twitter posts on the subject, I was able to pull some examples of just how divided the international community is on the topic of whether to accept Syrian refugees into their nations or not.

Mr. Tsipras (above) advocates for the acceptance of Syrian refugees from all nations, especially those in the EU because of the international ramifications if the refugees are turned away. While Dr. Bloem (below) suggests that the economic burden involved with accepting refugees will derail international development aids like eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

Mr. Singh (below) touches on the same humanitarian beliefs as Tsipras in his rebuttal of the opposition’s suggestion that Syrians should not come to their countries.


The tweet from Mr. Bear (above) shows a response to the Paris attacks that lacks the fear of expected terrorist attacks from refugees that a lot of U.S. citizens had. This response directly opposes that of Mr. Gowdy and Mr. Rath whose tweets are displayed below. They make the claim that refugees will bring more harm and death to domestic civilians. They suggest that it is not worth it to invite these people into their country if there is even the slightest chance of danger.

Mr. Ferencz’ tweet below opposes the view of Rath and Gowdy, as he believes that one cannot equate being a Muslim to being a terrorist, and therefore one cannot assume all Muslim refugees will commit acts of terror or violence.

The following tweets from Wulalowe and Aaron Quantz (below) touch on how past history should inform our handling with Syrian refugees. More specifically, they touch on WWII and how denying to help refugees is very similar to the poor treatment of Jewish people during and after World War II.


While the tweets above reference history from a few decades ago, the posts from Mr. Capps and AgriTech reflect the hesitancy from lawmakers and citizens to accept Syrian refugees following recent history, more specifically the Paris terror attacks. Capps points out that the majority of U.S. governors oppose refugee admittance, while AgriTech released a story that contributes to the overall reason for the widespread fear of accepting Syrian refugees, which is the possibility that they will commit acts of terror in the nations they relocate to.


Works Cited

king of rap&roll


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Introducing Mr. Elvinem #elvis #eminem

For my viral post, I wanted to create something original that would connect with as many people as possible. I also wanted them to be so engaged with the post that they felt compelled to like and share it.

With this logic in mind, my first thought went to celebrity memes. These people and their likeness seem to go viral almost weekly and I thought it would give my work the best chance of doing so as well. (i.e. Drake’s Hotline Bling, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl face, Tina Fey’s child running, etc.)

The connections and reach of celebrities seems to invite viral posts. Their large-scale audience also presents a more defined route of success for ordinary people, like myself, to create highly engaging and viral content. So my final product affectionately known as Elvinem or the king of rap&roll was born. Eminem is an absolute lightening rod for controversy, and for this he has always been able to garner massive amounts of attention as an artist, father, and businessman. He is smart enough to know that more eyeballs on him equals more lucrative and marketable ventures for his brand. This is important to my project because given his constant media attention I can only assume that my content will be evergreen in nature, or make sense for years to come. I already know that Elvis content is evergreen and will be understood for decades to come because of his continued resonance power fifty years since his passing.

Giving my post the best chance for long term relevance will allow the content the greatest chance to have a life of its own and retain its meaning years after its creation. So, it was my intention to ride on Eminem and Mr. Presley’s coattails and more specifically play off of Kanye’s reputation of braggadocio in my image. Eminem has famously labeled himself a rap god, so morphing his image with the king of pop seemed to match his persona. Also, choosing a funny head shot of Mr. Mathers gives the audience the permission to find the picture funny and to not take it too seriously. The point of this post is to make people laugh and I wanted to make that abundantly clear in my creation of the mash-up. I also consciously chose to use a very memorable image of Elvis Presley because I wanted to make sure that the audience could recognize him without his face or name put anywhere. That is also why the caption references Elvis’ nickname as the “king of rock&roll” just to reinforce his presence in the mash-up.

Mash-ups have previously been effective on various occasions. An example of a successful mash-up is the photo of Kevin hart and Shaquille O’Neal with switched faces. The mash-up struck a chord with consumers because it was so creative and jarring, but also had enough familiarity that audiences felt “in” on the joke. It was like making a joke about two of your friends. Everyone knows Kevin Hart and Shaq, so the ribbing seemed like another way for people to connect with them personally by sharing jokes, albeit at their expense. It is my hope that Elvinem (my post) will strike a similar chord with audiences. Due to the relative global recognition of these figures, I can only hope that the joke at their expense will result in a highly engaging piece of content.



Want to write a good story? Tell the truth!

Most people know the components of the story arc. First comes the exposition, then the rising action, which leads to the climax, followed by the falling action and finally the resolution (phew that was a mouthful). This arc is what my lovely second grade teacher taught me, and it’s where every great narrative starts. However, lasting stories are not as formulaic as this mold would suggest. Tales are meant to transport their audience. Invite them to connect to characters and relate to their struggles and successes. The basis of all entertainment is rooted in this same notion of enticement. Get the audience to engage and you are well on your way to a powerful piece.

In choosing the most pivotal ingredient in a good story, I couldn’t ignore a story’s need to connect with diverse audiences. This led me to the conclusion that good stories are universal. In fact, every good story relates to a human truth.

In my opinion, the most effective medium for conveying human truths would have to be movies. History’s most beloved cinematic feats are all rooted in these universal feelings. For instance, the Sound of Music was able to touch so many people’s lives because it was simply a story of a person wanting to fit in and belong somewhere. Maria did not fit in with her fellow nuns or with the captain’s elite circle of friends, but she was eventually able to find her place in due time. Maria’s plight to find acceptance is something that everyone can relate to on some level. Everyone has felt like they don’t belong at some point in their life, and seeing it up on a screen can be reassuring and provide a window for audiences to connect further to a story. This human truth of wanting to fit in has been weaved into countless classic films. From The Breakfast Club to Boys Don’t Cry, feeling alone and different from others is fairly common, despite its impression, and is a relatable truth for audiences of all kinds.

For the sake of brevity, I will continue to focus on examples utilizing the particular human truth of belonging. This principle has been used to enhance stories told on countless other media platforms in addition to film. In fact, it was the crux of the Apple’s legendary 1984 commercial, which branded the newly formed technology company in the eighties.

In the commercial (shown above), we see a woman standing out in a crowd of homogeneous business men, who were meant to represent the stuffy computer industry up until that point. This colorfully-clothed woman emerges from the masses and breaks the monitor controlling all of these soldiers. She embraced her individuality and bucked the stifled system that made her feel like an outsider.

This story was so powerful because it showed how Apple was for consumers who felt like they didn’t belong. It also showed the protagonist assuming control and fighting back against her oppressors. In a time when computers were foreign to most and primarily used by stiff businessmen, Apple successfully differentiated themselves from their competitors and invited an entire new audience to feel comfortable embracing the new technology. This campaign exemplifies the power of human truths in storytelling. By utilizing universal principles, they gave their message a life of its own for each viewer that watched it.


UNICEF Tap Project Case Study

The UNICEF Tap Project campaign was a highly successful example of expert social media, digital, and phone application marketing. The basis of the campaign itself was app-driven involvement from supporters. UNICEF asked followers to sacrifice time on their phone to provide clean water for someone in need for a day. In fact, they declared that “For every fifteen minutes you don’t touch your phone, UNICEF Tap Project sponsors and supporters provide the funding equivalent of a day of clean water.”

The results of their advanced online targeting through Twitter, Facebook, and digital spots lead to over 2.6 million participants who spent roughly an hour on the site a piece. These people raised $1.6 million from the over 250 million minutes they went without phones.


The Tap Project was created in 2007 by the Droga5 ad agency. The main objective of the initiative was to provide children in need with clean and safe water. The angle that the advertising agency took to market this project was to encourage people to donate a dollar to help provide those in dire need the tap water that is given to us for free. There have been multiple campaigns echoing this message since 2007 including World Water Day (& week) and Celebrity Tap. But, it wasn’t until the 2014 Tap Project challenge that UNICEF reached its biggest audience. Their success can be attributed in large part to their active and masterful use of social media marketing tactics.


1.) Get people to donate money to UNICEF in support of one of their mission to provide global access to clean and safe water.

2.) Another objective of the project was to gain brand recognition and awareness to the UNICEF tap project cause. That is the plight of millions of citizens around the world in their pursuit of clean water.


UNICEF and Droga5 employed a full online media blitz to promote their Tap Project campaign and application.

They created a website dedicated to the cause with tracking of their current users and the overall campaign’s status. They drew traffic to this site and to downloading their app by tweeting from the over-arching UNICEF handle’s 4.6 million followers and their 5.3 million person Facebook audience.


The key to the proliferation of their app was the self-promotion feature associated with every tap project. Every person who donates 15 minutes of cell phone time to supply UNICEF with the funding for one child’s water was publicly recognized among their own peers with a tweet sent from their account to each of their followers. This was instrumental in the Tap Project’s success because it made advocates out of supporters. For every person who participated, their activity was advertised to their own group of friends who would see the activity and hopefully pitch in themselves. This tactic was critical to increasing the campaign’s reach and total audience they were exposed to. It also allowed their advertising to be more meaningful because consumers are more likely to trust something if its recommended by someone they know personally. By having all participants tweet out their participation in the Tap Project they were able to have trusted brand advocates all over the globe.

The most powerful examples of their trusted brand advocates were celebrities who retweeted the UNICEF handle or even tweeted the results of their own participation in the Tap Project. These celebrities have millions of followers and very devoted fans, so their involvement was very helpful to the campaign. An example of a celebrity advocate was Selena Gomez. She instagramed a picture of the Tap Project application and her own phone activity, or lack thereof, in support of UNICEF’s water project. By posting this (seen below) Selena Gomez became a brand advocate, whether she may know it or not.

While there is no way to know if her involvement was of her own free will or if she was paid to promote the initiative but her Instagram of the project and her own participation reached her 40+ million followers. This doesn’t even factor in if any of her fans reposted her picture to their own personal accounts. The large web that social media can tap into was clearly used in full effect by the genius Droga5 advertising minds in the 2014 Tap Project campaign.


Lessons Learned:

Strength: This uberly successful integrative campaign taught me the power of good content, given to the right people and places, on social media. This online application could have been easily ignored and lumped into the huge amount of media people consume daily, but the powerful message, capitalization on opinion leaders, and active facilitation of consumer advocacy. The powerful message came from the human insight that average citizens believe that their phone is a necessity. This was then cleverly used by the creative department at Droga. They were able to juxtapose what people in 1st world countries think they need (cell phones) and what those who are impoverished REALLY need (water). The added even more poignancy and lasting power to the cause as it played off of the original insight into people’s lives. By addressing the privileges we have in our society, it did a much better job putting other people’s shortcomings and suffering into perspective.

Weakness: While the campaign expertly built brand awareness and captured consumers attention, I think they could have made a bigger play for personal donations. They really focused on having people donate their time and having their project sponsors foot the bill. I understand that garnering attention for the cause was very important and necessary, but I do think they left some money on the table by not adding a donation factor to the game or making the option more attractive to users.

All-in-all the UNICEF Tap Project campaign is a shining example of persuasive social media mastery. They capitalized on a platform that continues to evade marketers expertise. Through organized websites, tweets, posts, and a very easy-to-use app the strictly social and digital campaign was able to raise $1.6 million from 2.6 million individual users. And they said it (strictly social and digital campaigns) couldn’t be done 🙂



Breaking Through the Content Clutter

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Brand expert Seth Godin perfectly summarized both the state of the media landscape and the key to conquering it with his quote above. The explosion of digital and mobile traffic coupled with the perseverance of long-standing traditional mediums like television and print has lent itself to a very cluttered environment. With people’s consumption growing and their exposure to content increasing along with it, it is incredibly difficult to stand out. The solution Godin provides of elite storytelling breaking through the clutter is critical to a content’s reach and digital life. However, I believe that it no longer can stand on its own. Expert storytelling is only rewarded when content is provided and promoted across multiple platforms and engages its consumers effectively. This can be achieved in a variety of ways.

A recent example of unique storytelling paying off was with Frito Lay’s “Do us a flavor” potato chip campaign. The initial idea of engaging their consumers to participate in the development process of their next chip flavor was a great idea in itself. But, what carried this message through and allowed it to reach as many people as it did was their domination of every media platform and outlet they could get their message out on. This doesn’t mean that they re-used the same graphic or call-to-action every time, instead they customized their content to the audience and environment that it was in. On their website they had voting and flavor curating stations that digital advertisements linked to. In T.V. spots they had celebrity spokeswoman Eva Longoria legitimizing the contest and announcing the million dollar grand prize and where to find the participation details on their website. They also tapped into social media audiences with routine tweets and Facebook posts about the contest and the website. (Check out the social example below.)They even reached another audience of people with their outdoor billboards and experiential stunts. In NYC, they set up Lays chip stands where pedestrians could try the final flavors and vote on a winner. This further engaged the consumer and promoted their brand/product. However, while the cross-platform promotion got the message across to a large audience, it was ultimately Lay’s storytelling and the original idea to let their consumers actively curate their future that afforded their content the longevity it received in the media landscape. It was initially pushed through the cluttered environment, but it’s unique and thoroughly engaging storytelling is what pulled the brand into newscasts and countless online write-ups in business articles. The art of earning media is critical to any content’s longevity, whether it be earned business write-ups or active viewer engagement. Lay’s “Do us a flavor” campaign used unique storytelling, cross-channel promotion, and earned consumption/coverage to deliver an award-winning advertising campaign.

When multiple platforms are taken advantage of, a brand’s influence has no limit. This was definitely the case with AT&T’s “it can wait” no texting and driving campaign. This campaign could have soured if they did not cause enough of a social movement to motivate consumers to take the time to pledge. If they did not reach enough people, or if they didn’t brand the movement in such a meaningful direction where actual lives are at stake this campaign wouldn’t have been a blip on our radar. The promotional team for AT&T hit all platforms from the twitter hashtag “itcanwait” to several experiential stunts with virtual reality and simulations. These simulations put users behind the wheel of a car with the impaired vision and depth perception problems associated with extreme inebriation.

They also had a large online presence with digital advertising and direct response ads that directed traffic to the campaign website and the It Can Wait pledge. Even with the mastery of all these various media platforms, this campaign still would not have won Cannes Lions and Webby awards if it weren’t for the expert storytelling the creative agency (BBDO) enlisted when they created the legendary commercial for the campaign. ( The television spot that they created was so jarring and devastating. It was a call-to-action for consumers that, even despite the cluttered media environment, you could not ignore. This is a perfect example of how important storytelling is to a piece of content’s success. This social movement needed a backbone to give credibility to their cross-channel blitz of advertising and this piece of art was the perfect way to connect the movement across every platform. People were streaming this video online, watching it on their T.V., and seeing the campaign displayed on billboards lining the very highways they might even be texting and driving on. With a message as visceral as this campaign’s, the repetition successfully reinforced the gravity of the consequences texting and driving have. Lives were and are at stake, so the campaign approached the subject with the severity and immediacy it demanded. The expertise in these advertisers’ approach to the movement payed off in spades with people all across the country signing up online and promoting the event with their followers socially.

From an advertiser’s point of view, the best part of creating a visual ad that has a unique and impressionable message is the ability for your work to earn its own media. This was definitely the case with AT&T’s campaign because once the video went viral online, traditional media outlets were spotlighting the movement on their nightly broadcasts. Especially with social responsibility causes, people want to do good, so it is our job as advertisers to give consumers the chance to engage with our message. Put the movement in front of their eyeballs, with the right execution, and with the appropriate sensitivity required. What made AT&T the real winner in this scenario was that they were able to spread a positive message to their users, while also building brand awareness and likability.

Overall, in order to cut through the chaos involved with today’s entertainment landscape, marketers must go above and beyond. It is not enough to place an ad of T.V. and assume everyone saw it. According to Nielsen, “62% of North Americans now use a second screen to browse the Internet while watching TV-video programming, and 39% say they keep up with TV shows by using social media.” T.V. is no longer king, and advertisers need to be present on all platforms in order to have a truly integrative and successful campaign. With that being said, the job does not stop there. Anyone can just place an ad, it takes true marketing skills to target the right people, at the right time, with the absolute best message. Finally, as Mr. Godin alluded to at the beginning of my blog, storytelling is really what makes or breaks a content’s longevity. It is the quintessential neatly tied bow and cherry on top. Without it, a campaign or message loses its lasting power and fails to deeply resonate with audiences.

Works Cited