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Can Advertisers Help Combat Radicalisation?



By Ben Welsh, chief creative officer, DDB Sydney

Can Advertisers Help Combat Radicalisation?
The recent spate of terrorist attacks has led to tragedy, sorrow, fear and hatred. Shock is followed swiftly by calls for better intelligence, more police powers and a curtailing of our civil liberties. Like a killer disease we focus on the symptoms, obsessed with finding a cure, seemingly disinterested in combating the causes.

Understanding awful human behavior invites accusations of condoning these acts, but surely, if we had a better understanding of what drives young men, and occasionally women, to kill and be killed in the name of Allah we would be closer to stopping them doing it?

If we were to look at the radicalisation process I suspect it would have many similarities with a marketing strategy and ensuing advertising campaign. It would commence by identifying the target audience, developing insights and a compelling idea, then tying it all together with a clever media campaign.

There may also be similarities with the typical recruitment for those pyramid-selling schemes; people getting in touch with people who are potentially susceptible to the idea. Word of mouth is still more pervasive than any ad so a word from a trusted source could be a key catalyst.

Whatever the pathway, it all starts with an insight into the mind of the would-be bomber. Minds are complex things, particularly young male minds. I remember being told by an expert in youth depression that drugs and alcohol abuse weren't the root cause, rather the subject self-medicating because their problems hadn't been identified.

How much do we spend on understanding and mentally inoculating against the risk vs beefing up security?

No doubt lots of very clever psychologists and anti-terrorism experts are working on this, but given the expertise of the advertising industry in spreading ideas, is there a role we could play? Certainly, food for thought.
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DDB Sydney, Fri, 16 Jun 2017 04:01:56 GMT