Two weeks ago Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher launched a series of high-profile celebrity videos as part of their ongoing 'Real Men Don't Buy Girls' campaign.
The good news: more awareness about the critical issue of child sex trafficking is being raised.
The bad news: once again the responsibility to elevate conversations about issues of social justice has fallen to celebrities.
Real Men Don't Buy Girls Campaign
As campaign launches go the 'Real Men Don't Buy Girls' interactive video initiative was pretty darn successful. In fact they were so successful that I couldn't avoid the story. Demi and Ashton's campaign turned up on CNN's Pier Morgan, The Huffington Post, Social Times, even ESPN of all places.
But perhaps more than all the celebrity hype what caught my attention most was the campaign's call to action. A call to action should several key characteristics: it should be clear, concise, actionable, and most importantly it should directly address the relevant issue.
I don't mean to undermine the DNA Foundation's work - I'm sure their intentions for starting a campaign to end child sex slavery is well intentioned. Nor am I against charity-celebrity partnerships, there are some great examples of stars who have helped raise much-needed attention and money for important causes. But by creating a campaign with such lofty expectations - to END child sex trafficking - the DNA Foundation has opened itself up to public scrutiny and criticism.
Here's the 'Real Men Don't Buy Girls' three-step call to action as seen on the DNA website and their Facebook page:
The campaign does hit some of the key components of a successful call to action, it is clear, concise and actionable. But do the campaign calls to action effectively meet the end goal of ending child sex slavery?
According to Ashton:
"At the end of the day anyone and everyone can be involved in this campaign. The minute you like our Facebook page, you're already one step closer to this three-step-process, you've made an advocacy video that you can share. One minute of your time might be all a girl needs to save her from sex trafficking."
I'm no expert on the issue, but I hardly think that making and sharing a viral video, donating money or buying a t-shirt is an effective way to END child sex slavery. Certainly reporting suspicious online activity or any other form of child sexual exploitation begins to address the root of the problem - but ending it completely?! Please!
If this were an isolated incident I might be able to let it go, but such a high-profile campaign is easily picked up by media outlets and perpetuates the idea that complex problems (such as child sex trafficking) have simple solutions. While headlines like 'Celebrities Use Interactive Videso to Help Stop Child Sex Slavery' (as seen on Mashable) are certainly catchy and retweetable, they do little to addess what truely needs to be done on at the government, legal and policy levels to stop child sex trafficking.
Campaign Calls to Action
Calls to action should not be taken lightly. When you ask your supporters to get involved they need to know that their action has real results. If they don't they will be more reluctant to participate in the future. Here's a few quick tips in creating a campaign call to action.
- Make it clear and concise: the shorter the better. Any more than three action points and you have probably lost the support.
- Make it measurable: be sure to create calls to action that you can evaluate later. If you can't measure you call to action in some way, it's difficult to assess waht impact your action has had.
- Make it actionable: a call to action requires ACTION! Petitions, demonstrations and fundraising are strong calls to actions. Liking a Facebook page - not so much.
- Make it realistic: your call to action does not have to be revolutionary. Very few campaigns can claim to have ended or stopped their issue (the campaign to end smallpox is a notable exception). Honesty and integrity are appreciated. Be realistic in what you think you campaign can achieve.
What are your thoughts about the 'Real Men Don't Buy Girls' campaign calls to action?