USAID Takes on Cause Marketing for Horn of Africa Crisis

USAID Famine War Drought

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently took on new terrain: social media for social good. As the agency’s first social media-driven cause marketing campaign targeted to the American public, USAID launched the FWD initiative last fall to highlight the burden of “Famine, War and Drought” in the Horn of Africa. The campaign reflects a foundational transition for USAID – as it shifts to not only meet the needs of millions in aid around the world, but also generate awareness among an American audience on critical humanitarian crises to garner U.S. support.

The campaign, created in partnership with Ad Council, is social media for social good at its finest. It empowers powerful storytelling, innovative infographics and endorsement from celebrities and key influencers to generate a social media movement.

What’s the Situation?

Across the Horn of Africa, more than 13 million people are in need of emergency food assistance to survive. As a result of the region’s worst drought in 60 years, crops have failed, livestock have died and prices in local markets are too high for most people to buy what is need to feed their families. And despite the fact that last week, the UN downgraded the situation in Somalia from a “famine” to a “humanitarian emergency,” attention and support is still needed to help stabilize the region.

Why this Campaign is Unique?

  1. Groundbreaking. This is the first time USAID has taken on a social media-driven cause marketing campaign targeted to the American public. If this is successful, you can probably count on seeing more innovative campaigns in the agency’s future.
  2. Crisp messaging. The crisis in the Horn of Africa is a complicated one – an area plagued with political turmoil, natural disasters and civil unrest. It’s not the easiest thing to communicate to a broad audience about. But the campaign simplifies the messaging around three pillars: “famine, war and drought.” And the call to action is clear: “Do more than donate,” providing prompts to share the message through social media networks.
  3. Powerful infographics and visuals. We all know the important of visuals in communicating a message.  The FWD campaign utilizes clear and powerful imagery and infographics to simplify and convey complicated facts.
  4. Celebrity power. This is not a new concept: maximize celeb influence and fan network to generate buzz around a cause. Dr. Jill Biden and actors Geena Davis, Josh Hartnett, Uma Thurman and others create shareable PSAs with clear facts and calls to action.

With 50 years under its belt, USAID is continuing to evolve and improve not only how it interacts with those in developing countries, but more directly in communicating with and engaging the American public. What are your thoughts on the campaign? What stands out for you?

Do More than Donate. Text ‘GIVE’ to 777444 to donate $10.

5 Comments on “USAID Takes on Cause Marketing for Horn of Africa Crisis”

  1. Michael Bellavia
    February 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Thanks for covering the campaign. You can read about the results in social media here:

    Also reminded me that we didn’t post the final case study – will do that and share with you as well.

    • CharlesBentley
      February 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

      Great link Michael. Definitely affirms the strength of the campaign. The numbers speak for themselves!

    • Koibito
      March 15, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Going to put this artlice to good use now.

  2. David Logan
    February 17, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Hey guys, we just posted the final results from USAID’s FWD Day campaign:

  3. Born This Way Tour Australia
    March 24, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    An amazing article, thanks for the writing.

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