A Wikid Awareness Campaign

18 Jan

Just now, as I was deep into writing a strategy document, I googled for an expanded definition of a concept I was working through. As a source I typically value for overarching conceptual ideas, I immediately clicked on Wikipedia. I was abruptly re-directed to the following page:

Wikipedia Blackout

It’s somber, eerie and in complete contrast to the gleaming white, information packed page I was expecting.  So of course, I began to read…

Wikipedia is on a 24 hour blackout to raise awareness of two bills, SOPA and PIPA, said to infringe “free expression while harming the Internet”. Regardless if you are in favour of or opposed to the bills, you have to stand back for one second and applaud the exceptional execution of this awareness campaign.

It’s a textbook implementation of what’s required for an awareness campaign set to go viral.

Strong Visual Impact

The mourning colours and the full page blowout instantly grabbed my attention and set a somber tone. No small banner message here to be easily overlooked.

Personal Relevance

Because of the blackout, I was personally affected by the cause. It’s easy to feel removed from the situation and indifferently change the channel or stop reading when you hear stories on the radio or other news outlets. But, I needed to use Wikipedia, and now I can’t! – better get to the bottom of this…


… easy. One click takes you to the Wikipedia information page (does anyone else find this a little humorous?). 13 short and direct answers later you are caught up on the issue. Have more time and want to read more? Wikipedia makes that easy too with a list of related links.


Very clearly, it’s stated what action Wikipedia would like you to take: “we encouraging you to share your views with your representatives, and with each other on social media”. And then with a handy  representative look-up tool, they make it easy for you to take action.


Wikipedia Blackout on twitter

Arguably one of the most important components of making a campaign go viral, Wikipedia conveniently put hot links on their blackout page that automatically load your favourite social media profile with a supportive message. Within seconds and with very little effort, a consistent message, dictated by Wikipedia, is  spread through your social network.


You’ll notice that the first content on the info page highlights the success of the campaign: 10,000 Wikipedia comments, 7,200 articles, 90 million unique visits to the blackout page, 5 million representative look-ups. It’s not a coincidence that this is the first section. People like to be part of a movement that’s working; it’s empowering. Speak to the heart then to the brain.

On the heals of the much scrutinized occupy movement, (why the occupy movement didn’t work) it’s refreshing to see such a substantial campaign which has a clear message executed to perfection. Today, let the W stand for WOW.


6 Responses to “A Wikid Awareness Campaign”

  1. Doug Brown January 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    You totally had me with that killer headline Andrea!

    What I also found admirable – and effective – about this campaign was its limited time nature: 24 hours. No spreading the message out over weeks. That really concentrates attention and gets a sense of urgency to read about it RIGHT NOW. Hell of a post.

  2. andmerson January 19, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Great point Doug. I even felt that urgency in writing the blog post- making sure it was out yesterday before it was ‘old news’ today. It’s refreshing that the campaign didn’t drag on. Just a high intensity shock with now what I expect to be a couple days of smaller lingering aftershocks by other sites- Like the censorship banner here on WordPress

  3. mtension January 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    SOPA is a pretty scary deal. HAve you seen this vid explaining it? http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa/

  4. andmerson January 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I haven’t seen that video yet ( it’s loading on my computer now!). I find it interesting that when so many people jump to video’s these days Wikipedia kept their campaign yesterday to simple text. I felt it was fitting for the blackout though- almost anti-digital.

    Thanks for the vid Michael!

  5. Cody Campbell (@Cody_Campbell) January 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    I like how Wikipedia included the informative section to educate people who aren’t up-to-date on the movement and the bill itself. Too often do people get behind protests they don’t clearly understand.

    Great post Andrea!

    P.S. I like the re-design guys 🙂

  6. andmerson January 24, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Thanks Cody,

    You’re right. Plus, not only did they just provide you with links to other information sources but they put together their own information page which means they controlled the information and ensured you stayed engaged longer with their site/brand.

    We are loving our new look too. Thanks for the support

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