Live Below the Line: An innovative and effective campaign

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The Global Poverty’s Project Live Below the Line was successful in its efforts to challenge the ways people think about poverty.  From its unique campaign, utilizing social media, to celebrity endorsements, Live Below the Line shows that innovation can be beneficial for raising awareness about a certain issue. Previous campaigns that were successful by using similar tactics help prove that public participation is essential in raising awareness and receiving involvement from the public.

Live Below the Line is an original awareness and fundraising campaign that’s making a huge difference in the fight against extreme poverty.  This campaign is making progress thanks to the passionate people that are willing and able to make a significant difference to those who need it most. Live Below the Line challenged individuals and communities to live off just $1.50 per day for food for five days in order to experience the daily life of the 1.4 billion people currently living in extreme poverty.

According to Sutton, a journalist who wrote Live Below The Line challenge to survive on $2 worth of food daily, the campaign takes place in Australia, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.  Sutton interviewed Richard Williams, a Melbourne University science student that has already raised $5,000 by consuming very inexpensive meals daily. Sutton explains how thousands of Australians are taking part of the challenge by consuming $10 worth of food for the five-day challenge.  Sutton also interviewed Anya Rugendyke, a twenty two year old from Sydney, Australia who has raised $2,835 doing the challenge over thirty days. Hayley Chapman, a twenty one year old science student, is camping out at Flinders University and using a portable stove to prepare meals. Sutton reported that celebrities such as Hugh Jackman, Ben Affleck, and Sophia Bush and Debi Mazar have participated in the challenge, which is useful for the campaign. Getting college students and utilizing celebrities are great examples of how many people, around the world, are getting involved with this challenge, whether they are celebrities or just your average citizen.

In the article Ben Affleck to ‘Live Below the Line’ with Food Budget of $1.50 per Day, Tuttle, a journalist for Time Magazine, explains the significance of the Live Below the Line campaign and said that 20,000 people were expected to participate this year, and Affleck was not the only celebrity on board. A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that this year’s participants would include singer Josh Groban, actress Sophia Bush, and celebrity chefs Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos.  Tuttle explains the set of guidelines for the challenge and advises celebrities and everyday people how to take part in the challenge and not cheat. According to Tuttle, the total five-day food bill shouldn’t go over $7.50, and you’re not supposed to rummage through the pantry for snacks, unless you factor how much the items cost into your total. It is important for celebrities, and everyone else, to get involved stay motivated the whole time.

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Ben Affleck involved with the Live Below the Line capmaign.

According to UNICEF’s article, celebrity Tom Hiddleston, from the Avengers, wrote a special essay a few weeks ago about his experience with the Live Below The Line challenge.  Hiddleston tweeted photos about his meals in order to keep the public updated on his progress.  This article reports that Hiddleston is actually a UNICEF ambassador and much of his role is to get press and raise awareness for the campaign.  He is also utilized for interviews and posing for photographs in order to get others to contribute money.  Hiddleston’s blog is about living below the line and he explains his challenges and successes.  This blog give a celebrities point of view about the campaign and is used as a way to endorse and raise awareness of the campaign.

Celebrities seem to be a common theme with this campaign. Why is it that when regular people like you and I see celebrities, we feel more inclined to participate in an event? Maybe it is because we trust them.  Maybe it is because we envy them and want to be like them.  Celebrities are role models to some people, and when a person sees his or her role model taking action with something, he or she will want to follow in their footsteps and be just like them. Using celebrities must be a successful tactic, or campaigns would not continue to use them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2qPhwFokkA –> Link to the Live the Line Campaign video featuring celebrity Hugh Jackman.

The Live Below the Line campaign is similar to other campaigns in its efforts to get people involved in ways that make them feel connected to the people in which they are attempting to help. Amy Wright, an author who wrote the case study Labour, leisure, poverty and protest: the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign as a case study, explains that activists often pass up typical leisure activities and take time off of work to protest.  She examines the 1968 racially, geographically, and politically diverse combination of poor people caravanned to Washington DC and built a temporary city.  These people lived in wooden huts for over six weeks and attempted to expose poverty.  Volunteers and participants conducted daily protests at nearby government agencies, demanding assistance for the basic needs of housing, food and jobs.  The participants wanted to unite to make the issues obvious so the government officials would want to fix the problems.  Their protests were a call for action to the people and were in efforts to raise awareness of the issues.  Similarly to the Live Below the Line Campaign, this issue gained awareness thanks fellow determined citizens, which is ultimately essential.

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An example of a meal on the five-day challenge.

Some people may say that these measures were a bit extreme, and they would never get involved with such things.  Some people are so comfortable with their daily lives that they are unwilling to live life in someone less fortunate’s footprints. I have to admit myself that I tried to do the Live Below the Line five-day challenge, but after the first day, I felt as if I needed more food to support my active lifestyle.  Although I did not complete all five days, I realized how hard it was to even complete one day.  It makes me feel selfish because unlike the people who do not have the option to “cheat” during a challenge, I took advantage of my luxuries.

Switching gears a bit and focusing on other campaign success, I would like to focus on two authors by the name of Katz and Miller.  These authors discuss the Radioactive Waste Controversy that took place in North Carolina in the article The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Sitting Controversy of North Carolina Toward a Rhetorical Model of Risk Communication.  The authors focus on the ideas of ecoracism and classism and how these are located and distributed across regions according to political benefits of interest groups. Katz and Miller discuss the importance of public participation such as public hearings, referendum initiatives, surveys, rule making, and citizen review panels.  This article explains the Public Participation Plan’s objectives that are founded by the North Carolina Waste Management Authority.  As Katz and Miller remind us, environmental racism is a real problem globally, as is the poverty that is happening worldwide.  It is our responsibility as fellow humans to take charge and get involved.  Even the smallest efforts can help, and we must not be afraid to be heard.  Sometimes people just need a little push, but once they put their minds towards something, I believe that people can accomplish anything together.

In the article, Touring “Cancer Alley,” Louisiana: Performances of community and memory for environmental justice, author Pezullo discusses the impacts of “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana.  Pezullo discusses also discusses this idea of ecoracism, and explains how it is being put into effect in this area.  The people that were less wealthy were unfairly targeted for this “cancer alley” and they were upset about the actions that were taking place.  These residents’ created “toxic tours”, which brought other people into their community and showed them exactly what was taking place.  These tours were hosted by the people that lived in the area, and wanted to receive attention from others around the world, so other people were aware of the horrid conditions.  It is beneficial to look at this campaign because it explains their struggles and strategies and tactics in which they used to make efforts to raise awareness of the “cancer alley” so that someday, it could be eliminated. Being innovative, just like the Live Below the Line campaign, is what got them attention on this issue.

It is upsetting to me as a fortunate citizen of the United States to hear about what is happening around the world, or even in my own country.  What is even more upsetting is the fact that I was not aware of this campaign, or the severe levels of poverty that were taking place worldwide, until I did research on this campaign.  I was amazed to see the hardships that people are experiencing, and it was enlightening to see how many people are getting involved. Although I am not completely impressed by celebrities participating in campaigns, and I do not think that just because they are “famous” they have any more credibility than you or me, it is nice to see that they are using their popularity for the better of the people.

Live Below the Line has already raised $432,239, and the numbers are increasing as we speak.  By attracting Twitter, Facebook, and other social media users, The Live Below the Line has been successful in spreading awareness about the campaign.  Since these social medias are so popular, it is no wonder that Live Below the Line is utilizing them to the best of their ability.  Posting pictures of people involved in the campaign, to tweeting updates about the money that has been raised, has been really successful for this cause.

 Comparing the Live Below the Line campaign to other previous campaigns can show how it can be beneficial to create innovative ways to spread knowledge and raise awareness about an issue.  From using celebrities as spokespeople, to having citizens around the world participate in the five-day challenge, it shows that anyone can be involved in a powerful movement, as long as they are informed and encouraged.  Live Below the Line was a successful campaign because it went above and beyond, and a lot can be taken from the experience of the challenge, and the campaign itself.

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