How does the animal advocacy movement measure the effectiveness of their campaigns?
In the absence of being able to measure it any quantitative manner, the next best option would be the response from those within the industry that is having the spotlight shone upon it.
If a campaign has the potential to have an impact on the practice that is being ‘exposed’ there is usually some sort of damage control undertaken in an attempt to convince people that it is either a ‘one off’ occurrence, or something outside of the norm.We have seen this with the piggery and slaughterhouse exposes that have occurred in recent times.
Sherrin footballs went into damage control when it was discovered that footballs manufactured overseas were made with child labour, with the footballs being recalled and taken off the market, at a substantial cost to the company.
Another example is the industry’s response to the ban live export campaigns. Not long after the ban was put in place, we were shown the ‘human’ side of the live export trade, when current affairs programs interviewed some of the nations biggest pastoralists.
The animal agriculture media recently sent the message out to its readers batten down the hatches in preparation for another onslaught from the ABC’s Four Corners, in an episode that is due to appear on Monday 05 November, 2012.
It could be said that the greater the impact that the campaign will have the bigger the response from those on the otherwise of the fence.
I have experienced this myself when I wrote a few articles about Queensland’s greyhound racing industry a few months back.
So with this in mind, I ask, what sort of response have we seen from those industries targeted by the Animals Australia’s Make It Possible campaign?
In a word. None!
Yes, we have seen the campaign mentioned in the media by Australian Pork Limited General Manager Communication, Emily Mackintosh, who has said that Animals Australia is fundamentally committed to veganism. With that being the only response to it, I would say that the comment was only made because saying “no comment” would have been seen as arrogant.
Though Ms Mackintosh did mention that the Australian pork industry was the first industry to make the voluntary commitment to be way back in 2010, to have sow stalls phased out by 2017 at a cost to the industry of $50 Million.
Mind you, this also does highlight one of the short comings of incremental reform, and transition periods.
Which leads me to ask my next question. Is the lack of meaningful response from industry due to the fact that when it really comes down to it, this campaign is going to have very little impact on the product that consumers buy?
If your response is that industry hasn’t had time to create a response to the Animals Australia campaign, you are probably being a little bit naive.
I have written a number of different posts that other sectors of the animal agriculture are skilling themselves up on the effective use of social media, using the pink slime fiasco in the US as an example that not saying anything is actually detrimental to the cause.
RSPCA Australia’s CEO, Heather Neil, recently told a beef feedlot conference that their use of social media is a more effective and quicker way to bring about change than waiting for industry and government to do it.
Over the weekend I spent the time have a bit of a chat to 10 different people, at both Coles and Woolworths supermarkets to gauge their opinion to the campaign, and if it would have any impact on their purchase decisions.
Of the 10 I spoke to, two said that they hadn’t see it, nor were they aware of it, and one said that they hadn’t seen it yet, though was aware of it.
As for the impact that it would have on their purchases they all said that it really comes down to their budget and ability to afford it. If the free range pork was more expensive than a different type of meat, then that one would be purchased instead.
The overall consensus for those who saw the ads was that it did have an impact on them when they saw it, and has raised their awareness a bit. Though when it actually came time to buy one of the products price, familiarity and time was a major factor when it came down to their decision to buy something.
While I do realise that talking to 10 people doesn’t really represent any sort of legitimate cross section of society or a high enough number to say that it is an accurate representation, it was done more out of curiosity and to gauge a few people’s reception to the ads.
Though it does make you wonder if the lack of response from the pork and egg sectors is because they know that it will have very little impact at the checkout.
I am sure in a few weeks time, Animals Australia will come out and say that the campaign was a huge success because they ‘reached’ X amount of viewers with their TV ads, Y number of people made a pledge to go meat or factory farmed free, and $Z was donated to the campaign fund.
The real impact of the campaign would be to A) see how much the market share of cage free products has increased since then. Though is that something that an alleged animal advocacy group should boast about? B) how much of a reduction in the weekly kill stats can be attributed to these ads.
What do you think?