Nothing very witty in this post I fear.
My feelings about immigration to the UK are pretty simple. I’m frankly astonished nobody is expressing this perspective. And massively disillusioned.
I’m lucky. Chances are, if you’re reading this, so are you. I wasn’t born in a third world country with significant prevalence of infant mortality, disease or civil war. Instead I was born in an advanced economy, in a middle class family, with all the tools, aptitudes and abilities to have a relatively comfortable life. I’m thankful for that. My attitude to those less fortunate is that I’d be happy to share some of my good fortune with them, especially if it doesn’t materially impact my lucky situation. If that means taking significant numbers of refugees from war torn countries or even enthusiastic economic migrants, looking for a better life, that’s all well and good.
Clearly, other people don’t think this way.
So what do they think? After all, we’re all immigrants really, if you go back a couple of generations.
Has social and political thinking been reduced to the calculus of ‘how can I get the most economic advantage’? Is there no place for the politics of fairness or -dare I even suggest – generosity?
I fear it’s beginning to look that way.
And I fear it makes us all look a bit shit.
It seems ultra churlish to criticise the work Grey has done for the UNHCR. But I’m going to anyway.
It’s a nice film highlighting the IOC team of ‘Stateless’ refugee Olympians. It’s a good cause – these are people who have endured extreme hardships and it’s great to see them celebrated in this way. Isn’t it? Well yes but….
Let’s be hard-headed about this for a moment. What is the film looking to achieve? It must have cost a couple of hundred grand to make. So, what’s the ROI? The words ‘sign the petition’ appear on screen for most of the duration. What petition? And what will the petition achieve? What am I supposed to do? How will that help? How many refugees will enjoy a better life because of our response?
In the old world where we talked about advertising, sometimes we also talked about objectives and strategy. Bit old fashioned now. We sometimes used a shorthand “get..to ..by”.
Embarking on a communications campaign, a neat start point was to describe the strategy in this way; get (a group of people, typically defined in a way to identify what makes them our target) to (take a particular action – like maybe buy our stuff, make a donation, put us on their shopping list) by (effecting a change – like shifting their opinions or telling them something they didn’t know already in a way that provokes a change in behaviour).
When you watch a piece of content, it should be possible, with a little imagination, to work backwards and post-rationalise the get-to-by behind it. That’s where the UNHCR film – like so many well-intentioned campaigns for good causes – fails. There’s nothing I’m going to do as a result of watching this film which will improve the plight of refugees, nothing that will strengthen UNHCR’s hand in improving their lot and nothing that will contribute to covering the substantial costs of making that film. Sorry, it’s an indulgence.
It’s made worse by the fact that Grey has a bit of previous here. Grey Singapore’s I SEA app won a Cannes Lion this summer but caused sufficient outrage to make them return it to the organisers. It was described as “an app that crowd-sources the search of the sea for migrants by giving access to the satellite image of the sea to smartphone users.” But if you logged on, there was nothing there. Nothing. It appeared to be a nice idea, but the reality was bogus.