Digital Campaign of the Week: World Development Movement

The World Development Movement has been busy in the run-up to Christmas making people aware of how food speculation in the commodity markets affects people in poverty

WMD: Lady Luck at the London Stock Exchange
WMD: Lady Luck at the London Stock Exchange

What’s the campaign all about?
The Stop Bankers Betting on Food campaign aims to ensure that the UK government supports the EU regulation of food commodity markets and that it limits the amount that bankers can bet on food prices. It claims bankers are making huge profits betting on food prices in unregulated financial markets, which creates instability and pushes up global food prices – making poor people go hungry and forcing millions into poverty. The campaign aims to build public support for outlawing such practices.

What’s the charity been doing to promote it?Human Blackjack game
As part of the campaign, WDM designed a viral email called Beat the Banker, which asks people to stick or twist when faced with the choice of letting people face hunger or giving the bankers big profits. This email also promotes sign-up to the charity’s Human Blackjack game, which allows entrants to bet chips in a game of stick or twist as either a Kenyan woman, a City banker or the US President, Barack Obama. All players must provide their email addresses, meaning WDM can contact them about their mission. So far, the game has generated about 5,000 views and 700 campaign sign-ups. A spokeswoman said the charity had wanted to create "an accessible way of getting a complex message through to lots of people".

Anything else?
WDM took its campaign to the streets by setting up outside the London Stock Exchange with a hostess dressed as ‘Lady Luck’ and a makeshift casino table to highlight the concept of bankers gambling with food money. This got the charity coverage in The Times' Diary and on BBC Radio 4. WDM also sent out campaign packs to its regional teams that included blackjack tablemats, bowler hats and George Osborne face masks, generating interest in the local press. A Facebook page, which has had more than 4,000 visits, and continued use of Twitter has meant the campaign continues to receive attention.

Third Sector verdict
The subject area of the campaign is a difficult one to convey. The lofty, faraway boardrooms of the city are, to most people, a different world, and the victims of rising food prices could be seen as a large and faceless population. However, WDM has taken a fun and interactive approach to drive home its message, meaning it is less complex and more engaging, while emphasising the gambling message at all times.

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