Out-of-Control Campaign Drives Understanding (Case Study)

Imagine this—What you say and when you say it are completely OUT OF YOUR CONTROL for a full 24 hours.


That’s what Surrender Your Say participants experienced via this imaginative campaign from Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada (TSFC). TSFC launched this out-of-the-box Twitter takeover to boost gut-level understanding of what having the disorder is like, specifically that it’s more complex than the popular misconception of a disease that causes people to swear uncontrollably (which affects less than 10% of those with Tourette Syndrome (TS)).

Here are the four steps to Surrender Your Say’s success:

  1. Show, not tell—Rather than telling audiences what TS is like, TSFC invited Twitter users to experience what it’s like to tic (as those with Tourette Syndrome do). Embracing or observing a tic-enhanced timeline for 24 hours built understanding and demonstrated solidarity with people who never have complete control of what they say or when they say it.
  2. Make participation as active and energizing as possible—8,900 participants handed over control of their tweets (a.k.a. their online voice) to TSFC on June 24, 2013. My bet is not one of them had ever shared their online voices with a cause before.
  3. Spur emotion and surprise that are memorable and likely to be shared—For that 24-hour period, participants could tweet as normal, but occasionally a bot—programmed via the real tics of a person with TS—tweeted out unexpected messages such as “Feet, don’t feet” or “Ah! Ah! Ah! (like the ones at top), followed by the hashtag #surrenderyoursay.
  4. Choose a platform that makes it easy to spread the word—Many of those who lent their Twitter feeds to the campaign also  tweeted out on it multiple times during the campaign. The Twitter platform provided built-in sharing, a.k.a. exponential reach.

Initially, I wondered why there was no call to action. That’s usually a must, but in digging in here I came to realize that participation (and the understanding generated) IS real action in this case. A brief taste of TS makes a huge difference because the more aware people are of the nuances, complexity and daily impact of Tourette Syndrome, the easier it is for those who live with it. Note: In most cases, building awareness is not an effective call to action.

This radical campaign moved me hugely, and motivated me to both tell my friends and family about it and learn more about TS. That’s the power of an experiential campaign. Try it for your cause!

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Nancy Schwartz in Advocacy | 2 comments
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