The Inspiration Blog has a great post on this award-winning campaign for the website GlobalCoalitionforPeace from Big Ant International, a small design studio based in New York. I loved the use of traditional media in a very creative way, with very strong visuals complemented by an unforgettable tag line: What Goes Around/Comes Around. The second I saw this image, I was hooked with the brilliant design. Guerrilla marketing at its finest – something you just don’t expect.
However, reading the comments on the blog post showed that it was a sharply divisive campaign, one that incited great anger and admiration in equal parts. Lots of Iraq veterans thought that it was a disrespectful campaign and showed a lack of appreciation for the efforts of the US soldiers – others suggested that if it was meant to change foreign policy, it should be targeted at and show the makers of that foreign policy (such as the US Secretary of State) and not the instruments (the soldiers). This mushroomed into the whole debate whether the Iraq war was justified or not, whether the US should be criticized, what’s right with the world, US interventions (here I found this great webpage on the history of US interventions), and so so much more.
From a clearly marketing perspective, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – any publicity is good publicity – but valid criticisms of this campaign were that it was unclear what the message was and who it was targeting, especially for Americans.
Quite honestly, though, it was pretty straightforward for me – a criticism of US foreign policy – but that is probably because I have lived in an anti-American environment for all my life. First Saudi Arabia, where I had plenty of Arab friends who despised US interventionism, and now Pakistan, where the drones have become a symbol of hatred.
In any case, I think it’s a triumph for great design over anything else. The message is further reinforced by that great piece of copywriting – What Goes Around/Comes Around really reinforces the message that violence begets violence. Kudos, Big Ant!