Intervening through Hairdressing

For this assessment, I have chosen a topic that is socially relevant and reflective of what we have learnt during the semester. It is focused on developing a case study for corporate social responsibility and how this can be a powerful tool in combatting a global issue that my audience is likely aware of, but very removed from. In this case, hunger and malnutrition. It is estimated that around 45% of deaths among children under 5 years are linked to under nutrition; this is an issue that continues to be prevalent throughout society (WHO, 2018).

My intention was to create an evocative and memorable piece of content that juxtaposed an issue that is tragic and saddening, with hope and empowerment. Colour with Care is an initiative created in 2017 by La Biosthetique Australia CEO Robert Aubin and Karen Aubin. The initiative advocates for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), to help support the not-for-profit and provide much needed food and aid to over 70 countries.

Due to the nature of the initiative, I chose to make a mini clip, which highlights the cause and effect of the intervention. Colour with Care has used its initiative as a concept global media to intervene for hunger and malnutrition through fundraising, social media and hairdressing. Intervening through hairdressing, I have found is a unique strategy, especially when examining campaigns that are advocating for similar issues. The hairdressing industry is often underestimated; it provides a platform for interventionists to connect with their audience on personal level through beauty and self-worth (Ellery, 2014).

In order to convey that hairdressing not only benefits the client, it extends to an international level, I wanted to showcase the issue and strategy in order to help and donate towards an every-growing matter; I achieved this through a specific selection of footage, titles, effects and music.

“The ability to perceive and understand emotional experiences is critical” (Satpute et al., 2016), in order to effectively convey the tragedy and direness of this issue, I utilised the black and white effect. By doing so, I wanted to remove the audience from their surroundings to take a moment to empathise with an issue we have never lived or have been exposed to during our day-to-day lives. This is further complimented by the soft and sombre backing track, I felt it engages and causes the audience to provoke emotional engagement and contemplate how this issue evolves and can be further dealt with and to understand how the functions of the intervention work.

To further engage and convey how La Biosthetique are intervening through hairdressing, I used colour and coloured subtitles as juxtaposition to relate to the western culture and desire of having your hair done as a beauty necessity and ritual (Ellery, 2014). Coloured subtitles were used to make the facts stand out, and show why Colour with Care is intervening. Furthermore, colour footage towards the end not only showcases a fresh colour for the client, rather it also showcases that as a result of this ‘every day’ activity, it having a broader impact on a global issue. Showing the process of colour allows the audience to recognise the extensive reach on a western audience who not only have the desire to feel good; rather it provokes gratitude and empathy. Through the gradual introduction and inclusion of colour, I intended to unveil how this process provides a resolution.

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Is It Really Equality?

On the surface, Nike’s Equality campaign presents all the elements to successfully adhere to a social justice intervention. Its motto, activists and ambitions urge consumers to break the barrier and welcome equality of race, gender, religion, so on. Although, there has been speculation surrounding Nike’s choice of advertising and a question of what goes on behind the scenes at Headquarters. Through reflection and feedback received from peers, it has become evident that while Nike have created and advocated for change and equality, it seems that these motives have not always been successfully executed.

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As previously stated, ‘Equality’ is an initiative that serves as an equal opportunity for all. Although, since the campaign has hit the headlines it seems that their actions are far from closing the barrier.

Firstly, an article written by OKTC journalist Clay Travis is quite striking, “Nike is for equality: unless you make it shoes”. Travis brings to light the imbalance between common society and LeBron James. For obvious reasons, LeBron is one of the world’s greatest athletes and a KOL for the campaign. LeBron is one of the leading activists for Equality, Nike utilises a renowned athlete as such to help circulate awareness and bring coverage to the intervention.

LeBron has evolved as not only an athlete but also as a brand. From apparel to shoes, Travis explains that while the collaboration between Equality Ambassador James and Nike there are ethical and contradictory issues.

Nike-Air-Jordan-1-OG-High-Chicago.pngThe purpose of the campaign is expressing and providing the opportunity for equality; however, this is contradicted through production labour. Reports show for a pair of Air Jordan’s, Nike is set to pay a total of US $16.25 (roughly) – to break it down: $10.75 for materials, $2.43 for labour, overhead is $2.10 and the factory profit. In Australia, to purchase a pair of LeBron James shoes, you are estimated to spend $210+ on a pair alone. Comparing and contrasting the manufacturing costs to retail, it is evident there is a clear inequality here.

Through Nike’s Equality AD, taglines such as “opportunity should not discriminate” and “we can be equals everywhere” are repeated. The question stands, how is Nike able to continue advocating for Equality when the productions of their products are an example of inequality. It is interesting to reflect on Nike’s prior history; an issue they were previously entangled with was their ‘sweatshop’ image in the shoe industry.

img_6814-e1501517865348.jpgIn July of 2017, students and activists around the world came together to participate in a day of protest against Nike, organised by the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Allegations against Nike have begun to rise once again as claims have emerged that workers at the Nike contract Factory in Hansae and Vietnam have suffered wage theft and verbal abuse. This follows long laboured hours in temperatures that were estimated to be over the legal limit of 90 degrees. As a result of this, it is evident that many American Universities have cut ties with the company to push for equal opportunity and fairer working conditions.

Nike confirmed that it would reduce the volume of orders to Hansae, and worked towards improving the working conditions at the factory alongside the Fair Labor Association.

Interestingly, it is evident that while a sporting conglomerate such as Nike push for equality throughout society, we can see that the initiative has not made a fair impression on the people. Nike must push to rectify these issues in order to create a neutral and clear view of its campaign and future objectives.


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