Connecting Curious Dots

On the intersection of technology, culture, and everyday life: My semi-updated space to collect and link my thoughts about interesting things I spot.

Celebrities Sell More Than Shampoo: Oxfam’s Dumped On Campaign

Back in ’98, flying pies and the freshly creamed faces of Bill Gates, Kenneth Derr, and Renato Ruggiero drummed up a good deal of publicity for grassroots voices.  Since then, the art of political food slathering on celebrities has reached a new level of sophistication.  Take case in point Oxfam’s Dumped On campaign: 


A rain of corn kernals on actor Antonio Banderas is followed by the factoid: "5 million farmers and their families are facing ruin because the US government subsidises its corn farmers to over-produce and dump the surplus at rock-bottom prices in Mexico."


Milk-doused REM singer, Michael Stipe is attached to a tagline: "The European Union gives its dairy farmers $2 a day in subsidies for every cow. This is more than half the world’s population have to live on each day."


Imagery of a blackened Thom Yorke is verbalized with the statement: "Poor countries lose around $100 billion a year because rich countries put up barriers, which prevent them from making the most out of trade in crops such as cocoa."

Can ads that follow the creative asthetic of fashion photography rally the general public to care about Fair Trade and the plight of farmers in developing countries as successfully as Gisele Bundchen sells Victoria Secret?  In a media staturated world, where bland policy memos compete with America’s Next Top Model for attention, more and more causes seem to be banking on it.

As a side note, last week my foreign policy class was honored with a visit by former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.  Among many interesting anecdotes, he chuckled about being outshined in recent media coverage on a global conference for HIV/AIDS.  Standing next to Angelina Jolie, a newspaper photo captioned the usually recognized figure as "unidentified diplomat" next to Jolie.  Oxfam doesn’t need to take notes on that lecture.

More photos (and downloadable screensavers) can be found at the campaign’s website,  With the help of more than a dozen rock stars and movie stars, Oxfam has been putting an amusing twist on political imagery to pressure politicians to change the rules on global trade.   Photos aside, the website offers quite a few interactive features to entice and engage visitors to join the cause before the December 2005 WTO summit.


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This entry was posted on November 14, 2005 by in Social Marketing.
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