Tag Archives: IDEO

Branding Famine Relief: How The American Refugee Committee is Feeding Starvation Through a Community of Stars

12 Oct

           It’s hard enough to get the world to care about famine.  It’s even harder when that famine is part of a 20-year cycle of endless white noise
called Somalia.

Therein lies the challenge of the American Refugee Committee.   Just how do you encourage people to contribute money to solve a seemingly endless crisis?  Its answer is in a new branding campaign that turns famine relief fundraising on its head.   Instead of asking people look outward at the results of famine, they’re now pushing them to look inward and become a “Star for Somalia.”


The new campaign is the brainchild of ARC and the creative team at IDEO in Palo Alto, California.  IDEO is fundamentally a design firm, known for creating breakthrough products such as the Apple mouse.  At its core, IDEO helps people channel creativity to solve problems.   Somalia is a big problem, but its team worked with ARC to un-harness the creative energy of everyday people to not just feed starving people, but to create a conversation about it.

Instead of forming a traditional campaign pumping out one-way messages about Somalia, ARC’s Daniel Wordsworth says the “I Am A Star” effort creates a multi-channel dialogue.

“Here is a chance for folks in Minnesota, in the US and all over the world to say this shouldn’t be like this and that we can make a difference. And what we’re trying to do is launch a campaign that says you can make a difference and we want you to do it your way,” said Wordsworth.

It’s already working.  Inspired to do something, Mohamed Samatar and Bonnie Bentson formed their own 5K Run called “Run to Unite.”  They are among the first “Stars” in the new ARC sky.

“Everybody can do something in some way,” said Benston. “And whether it’s as big as creating a 5K or as small as walking in it or running in it, or telling your friends that I’ve heard about this, we can all help in some way.”

That’s what happens when you ask people to look inward.  That’s personal empowerment and the beginning of a potentially powerful brand.

Look for my story on ARC and how it’s trying to change the conversation on Somalia on Fox 9 News Saturday night right after baseball.

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