LinkedIn’s Big Issue, the Home Office’s bad ad, Jamaican’s speak out

Authors: Kate Savin, Liam Clifford, Zoe Dawson
  • Reading time: 5 min.
  • Posted on: February 23, 2021

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the bad, and the one to do in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting support for street vendors, the Home Office missing the mark (again), and important stories of abortion in Jamaica.

| NAILED IT: LinkedIn raises profiles of Big Issue vendors

The Big Issue has joined forces with LinkedIn for a scheme that supports the magazine’s network of street vendors, many of whom have been hit hard by the pandemic. 

The community — primarily made up of homeless and vulnerably housed individuals — was an at-risk group before the pandemic, but with less footfall on London’s streets many vendors have lost contact with regular customers, losing their livelihoods as a result.

The campaign, from ad agency FCB Inferno, looks to use LinkedIn’s network to offer support to the magazine’s sellers, such as training, digital skills development and even new job opportunities. The partnership will give those taking part access to the professional platform with a view to helping them increase their sales despite the empty London streets. 

Vendors will be able to reach out to customers and local companies via LinkedIn to let them know that the magazine is now available for digital purchase, and customers can search for their profiles if they are interested in supporting the community online. 

So far, there are nine vendors on the pilot scheme with LinkedIn, with The Big Issue hoping to introduce more people to the programme throughout the year. 

The ‘Raising Profiles’ campaign is a great example of brands working together to help a community that is struggling. Online shopping, Slack and Microsoft Teams have kept many businesses going in our new, socially-distant world — but not everyone has had the same opportunities. It’s great to see a platform like LinkedIn offering those people a chance to make a living online. . 

You can find the vendors profiles and discover more here.

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Home Office fails to instill fear with parody ad

The government’s latest COVID-19 advert has provided us with some much-needed entertainment but probably failed in its aim to scare the naughty Brits who are breaking lockdown rules. 

The video, which has been removed from the Home Office’s Twitter but can be seen here, parodies FACT’s cult Piracy it’s a crime advert from the early 2000s, which is seared onto the memories of anyone old enough to watch videos back then. That original ad was already uncool. The government has managed to make it worse. 

‘Meeting up is illegal’ is the main message the Home Office wants to get across (which is incorrect), though it also reminds those thinking about it that we shouldn’t “make our own pub” or “hold baby showers”. How many of the public this relates to is anyone’s guess.

An element of tongue-in-cheek virality was probably (hopefully?) an aim here. And at least it wasn’t grossly offensive or sexist as per their recent Stay At Home ad. But we do have to wonder whether our taxes could be spent more effectively, or at least not on campaigns immediately taken down just because the internet laughed. Perhaps they need a different comms approach – we’d be happy to take on the brief. 

| ONE TO WATCH:  Jamaican’s speak out on forbidden abortions

A new volunteer group in Jamaica is helping people break the silence on the taboo topic of abortion, by sharing their stories anonymously. Abortion Jamaica, launched this January, aims to challenge the stigma and restrictive laws that govern reproductive rights in the country.

Abortion has been illegal in Jamaica for 157 years, one of the longest rules of its kind — just asking your doctor about it could land you in jail. Of course, just because abortions are illegal does not mean they’re not happening. As many as 22,000 unsafe, backstreet terminations take place every year in the country. 

Now, it seems that Jamaica is slowly coming to terms with that reality. Calls for debate have flared up again recently, following Argentina’s landmark pro-choice policy shift in December and Joe Biden’s order to drop the global gag rule.

So far, the group has shared nearly 30 stories in their first month. They are graphic, detailing pain and heartbreak — and very necessary. 

Giving that voice to the unheard can be an important step in creating the awareness that deeply taboo issues like abortion need for real change. We’ve seen before how powerful those individual experiences can be when it comes to changing hearts and minds — a statistic is easy to ignore, but the right story at the right time can offer a moment of true, deeper connection.