Friday, November 1, 2013

Pretty Ribbons

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness." ~ Lao Tzu

Throughout the history of the human race philosophers have been trying to figure out what it all means: life, self, meaningful existence, our place in the grand scheme of things... And now, more and more people are chanting mantras, contorting our bodies into pretzels, singing kumbaya and meditating in the hope that all will be revealed and we will pass into a new age of awareness.


Somewhere along the line, folks figured out that the way to help good causes was to raise people's awareness of the need. As a result we have an increasing number of awareness months, weeks and days. Those who build awareness campaigns battle for our attention in advertising, media reports, and special fundraising events (like runs for cures). In fact, we have so many different causes competing for our attention that finding a distinctive color for ribbons for people to wear and put on their bumpers to show awareness and support has become pretty well impossible.

The Process of Engagement
As a result of all this activity, we now have a market so saturated with good causes (watered down with pseudo charities and questionable corporate involvement) that people are now questioning the effectiveness of simply being aware. And while I love what's been done creatively for awareness advertising, awareness is only the beginning – the bottom rung of the ladder. The process of engagement is a multilevel one. It's not enough to ask someone to wear a ribbon or 'like' yet another facebook page and the public is acknowledging that. Simply being aware and clicking a mouse, they say, is not really doing anything. They want to understand what their support means, be informed of the effectiveness of their support, gain a reason they should pick this cause over others and, finally, be given a do-able course of action. In advertising, this is called "the ask". If all they're asked to do is to be aware and pin a ribbon on their chest, that is where their attention will end. The strategy involved in engaging people and achieving goals is a sophisticated one.

And it starts with not stopping at awareness.


  1. My job is all about the ask. Maybe I should pick a color for a ribbon instead? More seriously, I think people need to figure out which causes are most important to them and support them and volunteer.

    1. Thanks Linda. Appreciate your take on the matter.

  2. Some things don't make sense for me to volunteer for. However, I'm not averse to donating to certain causes. I favour the ones that have provided a hand up to a friend or relative. Those have special meaning for me.

    I admire the folks at work who call on others for one cause or another - a special form of awareness. (I guess I admire me, sometimes, then.)

    1. Thanks Lynn Marie. And well you should (admire yourself, sometimes)