Pictures without pity

Which image of Africa would you rather see: skeletal, abandoned child, or healthy-looking working family?

Most people would say the latter; certainly most of those in the aid sector  – some of whom were discussing this at the recent PICS festival – now consider the starving child images not only unethical, but also unhelpful. They’re “not effective”, is the general view.

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Provocative without the pity

But effective for what? Fundraising appeals today still deploy the same imagery, and the same language, as they did in the 1980s, when “poverty porn” made it to the mainstream with the Ethiopian famine hitting our headlines. That’s not only an indication that we’re seeing the same problems as we did three decades ago; it means we’re also stubbornly looking at them in the same way.

Continue reading “Pictures without pity”

How to tell it

yourstoryI hate wasting anything – time, food, money – so it drives me mad to see official publications, nicely designed and translated and distributed, that read like a copy-paste of an internal report. Or websites that leave you re-reading sentences and clicking through pages before you can understand what they actually do. It doesn’t matter how glossy or cool it looks. Overuse of jargon, heartsinkingly long paragraphs, and vague sweeping statements instead of actual facts – it’s a wasted opportunity to tell your taxpayers, partners and public what you do, and why it matters. Continue reading “How to tell it”

150 years

Transport for London – which runs the Tube – has had some great advertising ideas, and I love the current one, celebrating 150 years of the Underground.

In poster format, it looks good. But where it really comes into its own is in the advertising screens that are lined all the way up the escalators. As you ascend/descend, you find yourself standing next to a quintessential “Londoner” from a previous decade: 1940’s soldier, 1960’s girl, 1980’s punk. A really effective way to get across a sense of history, a sense of change – and a product/business that’s transcended every fashion.

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