LEAP 4 – Creating Propaganda

Sea Turtle Street Sweep.

Introduction & Overview:

As I surveyed the “DOSOMETHING.ORG” website for campaigns, I came across the Sea Turtle Street Sweep (STSS). First off, this campaign’s main goal is to keep all streets clean, not just those near the ocean, in effort to keep the ocean clear of plastic pollution; which is responsible for killing nearly 1,000 sea turtles per year, according to Brendan Godley. As listed on their campaign description, it’s essential to pick up waste off of the streets before it reaches the ocean or beaches. If we wait for the beaches to get filled with plastic pollution and then decide to make an effort to clean up; then it may be a lost cause.

The STSS notes that a vast number of plastic pollution which ends up in the ocean is from people disposing it improperly, such as throwing their waste on the ground. Additionally a common idea to people who chose to litter may be the fact that they do not live near the ocean and therefor their trash is ultimately irrelevant to the ocean and the creature, such as the sea turtle, within it. This is incorrect and is a large attribution to the 100 million tons of plastic pollution found in our oceans. Whether near the ocean or landlocked, storms and winds have the tendency to carry litter into drains, rivers and streams, which eventually dump into the ocean – the sea turtles’ natural environment. Not only does plastic pollution in the ocean cause the sea turtles to be tangled or caught up, but also can be mistaken for one of the major pieces in their food chain, jellyfish. As a result, the sea turtles can choke, and the STSS says that up to 80% of sea turtles that are found dead have plastic inside of their system.

With the information aforementioned, I thought that this campaign provided a great opportunity to create beneficial propaganda. I chose to create an infographic and short (two and half) minute screencast video to serve to main functions. First off to bring attention to the statistics and prominence of sea turtles which are affected by plastic pollution. The ladder function being to tell the target audience (which I will refer to in aa moment) on how they can make a positive impact and essentially what the STSS is and does.

Campaign Strategy:

As I mentioned above I chose two forms of media to use as beneficial propaganda: an infographic and screencast video. Within both of them, I put statistics about plastic pollution and its negative affect on sea turtles as well as the four steps that is the make up of the Sea Turtle Street Sweep campaign.

According to SMA Marketing’s research, “infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than any other type of content”. I think this is in large part because of the versatility of infographics. They have the ability to pack in statistics, solutions and images that resonate with audience and human emotions. In other words, they are able to incorporate all four propaganda techniques that successfully influence people, as we talked about at the beginning of the semester: Activate strong emotions, respond to audience needs and values, simplifying information and ideas, attacking opponents. As you can see in the infographic below, these techniques are present. At first glance, one may say that no opponents are being attacked, however I disagree. The opponent in this campaign is littering and the below infographic does a lot of targeting against plastic pollution. It may not be as obvious as Hitler’s strategy of attacking Germany’s military after the Treaty of Versailles as we read in ‘The State of Deception,” but it is still attacking the opponent in this campaign; littering and the people who do it.

Additionally, the great part about a campaign such as the Sea Turtle Street Sweep is that the statistics in themselves activate strong emotions and respond to the values and needs of the audience. For example, putting a large percentage on the infographic, such as 80%, will catch the audience’s attention almost immediately. Additionally, the more negative the information is following the statistic the more possibility for positive impact on the reader. In a survey conducted by Gallup, a third of Americans (32%) believe that animals should have the same rights as humans and 62% of Americans believe that animals should have more protection. This shows that this campaign can be effective in activating strong emotions and responding to values and needs. By showing the negative and, in most cases, drastic effects of plastic pollution on a lovable creature such as the sea turtle; those strong emotions, values and needs toward animals can influence people in a positive way.

Furthermore this infographic serves as a microcosm for just about every other infographic used. They are all able to simplify ideas with pictures, colors, and numbers. According SMA Marketing and their research, “content incorporating color into the design increases reader attention span by 82%,” which is why I included many different colors, logos and quick facts.

Infographic:

Infographic

My screencast video follows a very identical pattern as my infographic. I first begin by identifying the problem and notable statistics regarding plastic pollution’s negative relationship to sea turtles. After that, I propose the solution, the Sea Turtle Street Sweet campaign and the steps within it. One thing I made to make a point of is how there is a direct correlation between plastic pollution in the ocean and the deaths of sea turtles. The main reason for that is it activates the strong emotions of those who care deeply for creatures throughout the world. Most notably, anger toward those who don’t care for the environment, which as Ryan Holiday notes in his book “Trust Me I’m Lying,” is the emotion in online content that is shared/spread the most. By showing how the innocent sea turtles are being drastically affected in the beginning I can stir anger in the audience, therefor have them waiting to hear about a possible solution. That is why I put the Sea Turtle Street Sweep campaign and it’s steps toward the end of the video.

Video:

Target Audience:

Catey Condit notes that millennials watch videos on YouTube more so than any cable network in the United States. With that said, millennials take up about one third (1/3) of the U.S population, and spend more time than any other age demographic in the country on YouTube. For this reason, millennials are the main target audience of this campaign. The video will likely be more reachable toward this demographic than any other because of their presence on social media; specifically YouTube (94% of millennials use YouTube, according to Pew Research Center). Also, the infographic can be shared over Twitter, Instagram (split into a couple photos) Facebook as well. According to Pew Research Center, 80% of millennials are on Facebook, 71% are on Instagram and 45% are on Twitter, all of which the infographic can be used to both identify the issue as well as bring the light to the solution and campaign.

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 4.16.33 PM
Analysis from Pew Research Center showing social media data by demographics. 

Campaign Goals:

The campaign goals as mentioned in earlier segments are to bring attention to the issue of plastic pollution and it’s negative affect on sea turtles. There are four steps in this campaign: Know it, Plan it, Do it, and Snap (a photo of) it. Through these steps both of these goals can be accomplished. By knowing it, the audience has familiarized themselves with the issue at hand and the possible solutions. Planning a cleanup with friends, family and neighbors allows the audience to expand their feelings and knowledge of the campaign and cause to those parties aforementioned. Additionally, while actually cleaning up, participants are asked to wear green clothes and a backpack (representing a turtle shell) to show they are helping create a better environment for sea turtles.  The final, fourth step asks the participants to take a photo and post it on social media and/or the Sea Turtle Street Sweep website. As I mention in the video, this allows for people to get the recognition for helping the cause, but also help gain campaign recognition. That along with a hashtags such as “#SavetheSeaTurtles,” “#SeaTurtleStreetSweep,” etc. helps reach a wide variety of viewers at a low, if any, budget. Much like we saw toward the end of the semester on how ISIS targets and recruits kids in isolation and open to indoctrination, even though they are half way around the world.

Conclusion:

Everything we have learned throughout the semester, from the propaganda techniques to Hitler’s use of propaganda in Nazi Germany to the use of propaganda in organizations such as ISIS shows how propaganda can be used effectively both negatively and beneficial. While the reaction of the piece of propaganda, meaning whether it is beneficial or harmful, may be dependent on the viewer or audience’s point of view, one thing is for sure: propaganda makes an impact and can cause change. That is the hope for these sources of propaganda trying to promote awareness of the negative and harmful affects of plastic pollution on sea turtles.

 

References:

Anderson, M. Smith, A. (2018 March 1). Social Media Use 2018. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Clearwater Marine Aquarium. (2018 Feb. 21). Why Plastic is a Problem for Sea Turtles and the Ocean. Retrieved from https://www.seewinter.com/plastic-problem-inside-sea-turtles/

Condit, Catey. (2018). Millennial Consumers: Using YouTube to Reach a Generation’s Buying Power. Retrieved from https://www.mni.com/millennial-consumers-using-youtube-to-reach-a-generations-buying-power.html

DOSOMETHING.ORG (2018). Sea Turtle Street Sweep. Retrieved from https://www.dosomething.org/us/campaigns/sea-turtle-street-sweep#

Fischer, D. (2017 Dec. 12). The Sad, Ugly Fate of our Plastic Trash in the Ocean. Retrieved from http://www.ehn.org/epa-wont-test-air-in-washington-state-downwind-of-b-c-lead-smelter-the-seattle-times-2566592088.html

Riffkin, R. (2015 May 18). In U.S., More Say Animals Should have Same Rights as Humans. Retrieved from http://news.gallup.com/poll/183275/say-animals-rights-people.aspx

Ruppenthal, A. (2017 July 10). Shedd Takes Aim at Plastic Bottles in New US Effort to Cut Pollution. Retrieved from https://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2017/07/10/shedd-takes-aim-plastic-bottles-new-us-effort-cut-pollution

Shelley, R. (2017 April 12). Are Infographics still in Effect. Retrieved from https://www.smamarketing.net/blog/are-infographics-still-effective

Tobias, J. (2017 Dec. 22). The Turtle Liberation in El Savador. Retrieved from https://psmag.com/magazine/the-turtle-liberation-in-el-salvador

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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