What can today’s activists learn from the history of campaigning?

Duncan Green - November 26, 2015

Spent an afternoon recently discussing the lessons of UK history with an eclectic mix of historians and modern day campaigners. Organized by Friends of the Earth’s Big Ideas project and the History and Policy network, it was the second instalment in a really interesting process (see here for my post on an earlier session). This time around, H&P had commissioned a set of short case …

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Where has the global movement against inequality got to, and what happens next?

Duncan Green - October 6, 2015

Katy Wright, Oxfam’s Head of Global External Affairs, stands back and assesses its campaign on inequality. The most frequent of the Frequently Asked Questions I’ve heard in response to Even it Up, Oxfam’s inequality campaign. is “how equal do you think we should be?” It’s an interesting response to the news that just 80 people now own the same wealth as half the world’s population …

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If annoying, talking down to or ‘othering’ people is a terrible way to influence them, why do we keep doing it? (research edition)

Duncan Green - February 12, 2015

I’ve been thinking about how we criticize/critique people, groups and ideas recently. It started with a conversation with my pal Chris Roche who first expressed surprise at the snarky tone of my post on a paper on NGOs (What can we learn from a really annoying paper on NGOs and development?) and then pronounced himself a bit irritated by some of the ‘Doing Development Differently’ …

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What are the pros and cons of positive, negative and global (i.e. post North-South) campaigns?

Duncan Green - October 1, 2014

Oxfam’s launching a big global campaign on inequality in October and as always, there are some fascinating internal meta-discussions about the pros and cons of different kinds of campaigns. A few years ago, we launched ‘Grow’, an attempt to run a campaign based on positive framing (a positive vision for the future of food, life and planet, with a focus on sharing). Although a positive …

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What Makes Big Corporations Decide to Get on the Right Side of History?

Duncan Green - February 26, 2014

For the past year, Oxfam’s Erinch Sahan (right) has been working on the ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign. Here he reflects on some successes and lessons from his time in the advocacy trenches. On 19 May 1997, the CEO of BP, John Browne, made a speech at Stanford University. Browne: “We must now focus on what can and what should be done, not because we can be …

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Brands, bankers and big ideas…… talking food to $5 trillion of investment

admin - June 24, 2013

Oxfam’s tame ex-banker Will Martindale has been discussing food security with some masters of the (financial) universe Imagine a million people, each with a million dollars. Then times it by five. Five trillion dollars. That was the total investment represented by bankers and investors that joined Oxfam last week for a meeting to discuss global food security. The context was Behind the Brands. Nestle, Unilever, …

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What are the secrets of some recent campaign successes?

admin - May 28, 2013

 This guest post comes from Hannah Stoddart, Oxfam’s Head of Economic Justice Policy  It feels like Oxfam campaigners have been celebrating a lot recently. First – after nearly 10 years of hard slog as part of the Control Arms coalition – we got an Arms Trade Treaty. Then just a few weeks later two of the companies we’d been targeting in our Behind the Brands …

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Attack? Equivocate? Engage? How Big Food responds to a tough new campaign

admin - March 6, 2013

Chris Jochnick, director of Oxfam America’s Private Sector Department (twitter: @cjochnick), reflects on the different corporate responses to our ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign launch Companies have had decades to hone their engagement strategies with activists, but still struggle to find the right approach.  Initial reactions to Oxfam’s Behind the Brand campaign offer an interesting case in point.  The campaign is only a week old, so these …

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How do we work out the returns to campaigning? Nice example from the Philippines

admin - December 5, 2012

Like any campaigning organization, Oxfam has limited funds, and so needs to know whether its investment has paid off. The push from everyone and their dog to pursue a ‘results agenda’ and ‘value for money’ has added further momentum to that effort. That’s fine if you’re doing something that’s easy to measure, (say vaccinating kids, or cash transfers), and where attributing an effect to a particular …

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Remember when Oxfam took on Winston Churchill, apartheid, the Labour government, Big Pharma and the pesticides industry?

admin - November 19, 2012

As Oxfam celebrates its 70th anniversary, head of advocacy Max Lawson discovers its radical roots, and urges it not to lose its edge January 1942. The second World War was at its height.  The Axis Powers had occupied almost all of Europe. In Greece, people were dying of starvation at a rate of 2000 a day.  Winston Churchill completely opposed any lifting of the naval …

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