Thousands of people, many of them good intentioned people seeking to peacefully get their message across, marched in Toronto during the G20 Summit this past weekend. What was the cause that mobilized so many people? I have no idea…and few people do. The protests were completely ineffective for getting their message out.
Some of the protesters have complained that the media only places focus on the violent acts, which always seem to accompany gatherings of world leaders. But this is a lame argument; the media will focus on whatever is going to catch the attention of their audience. Burning police cars and the masked, black-clothed anarchists are going to get the attention every time…they’re remarkable, albeit in a bad way. The message was lost, and the protest organizers should have expected that based on past summits.
So how to get a legitimate protest message out? In the very same week as the G20, a group called Avaaz.org launched a very successful protest to defeat a proposal to legalize a commercial whale hunt at a gathering of the International Whaling Commission in Morocco. They used a graphic image (shown here) and an effective social media campaign to spread awareness of their cause internationally. At the vote date, they had an online petition of over 1 million names and created global outrage. And the proposal? Defeated.