Using a pointed and, frankly. brilliant social experiment/recruiting gimmick, the Swedish Armed Forces (SAF) rolled out a campaign addressing the lack of value that is inherent with social media armchair activism. While clicking the like button or sharing the issue does increase awareness of the issue and give the sharer the warm fuzzies, it does not actually do anything to solve the issue.
The very core of the SAF campaign addresses this passive activism and asks the audience to give up something real, to not just pass the word along. Why is this important? At the very heart of what the SAF is looking for in a recruit is someone who is willing to take real action, not just remain idle from a safe distance. A soldier is someone who is willing to sacrifice their comfort and convenience for the sake of another.
A small room was built in central Stockholm and a man was seated inside, waiting. The rule was that he could not leave until there was someone there to replace him. Print and digital ads accompanied the campaign, explaining that the liberation of one means the sacrifice of another. A live stream was set up of the one-chair room with nothing for viewers to do but monitor the single volunteer. For a campaign that intentionally left out any social media prompts, it reached 100,000 visitors in only 4 days and sparked a tremendous amount of online conversation.
The campaign was a great success. Over the span of 89 hours, 74 people traveled from far and wide to offer themselves in place of the existing volunteer. The SAF discovered that they could not only reach, but also attract, young people who want to make a difference. The campaign doubled the goal and attracted 4,300 applicants for 1,430 positions, for a grand total of 9,930 applications.
As it turns out, people really do care and are willing to get up from their computers and actually act.
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