Are You Sustainable?

Okay, so if you’ve been reading any a few of my previous posts, you’ll know about some of the pretty cool things I’ve done while I was at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study – like my tutorial (group independent study) on New Media, New Politics and the Future of Democracy and my colloquium (senior capstone) on the Role of Propaganda in Modern Democracy.  One of the other tutorials that I worked on while I was there was a social marketing venture that we called the Ademos Project.  The Ademos Project arose out of a final project I did for a Gallatin class my sophomore year called “Walter Lippmann and the Manufacture of Consent.”  Little did I know when I took the class that it would end up shaping most of my college career.

I created the Explore New Worlds campaign as my final project for the class.  Here’s the description I wrote back in the spring of 2007:

The Explore New Worlds project is an eleven-month advertising campaign designed to encourage the public of the United States to become more active and interested in democracy.  Targeting every American citizen, the campaign begins in December 2007 and ends in November 2008; it rides on the wave of the pre-made spectacle of the 2008 presidential election.  It consists of three parts – a series of print advertisements designed for magazines, billboards, posters, and the web, an alternate reality game (i.e. I Love Bees for Halo 2 or the Lost Experience) centered around a blogger who has discovered a conspiracy to replace democracy with “celebrocracy,” or rule by celebrity, and a series of real world events throughout the nation.

I actually put the website I created for the class back up just for this post – click here if you want to see everything I created for the project I did in class.  Sorry about the cookie cutter-ish appearance; I used iWeb ’05 and I threw it together in one hectic day during finals if memory serves.

This project led two tutorials my junior year with another student and advised by Gallatin Professor Stephen Duncombe (who taught the class on Walter Lippmann), Advertising Democracy I and II.  The goal of the tutorial was to “create a multimedia social marketing campaign designed to revitalize interest in democracy in the United States.”  Lofty, I know.  The first semester we fleshed out our ideas, developing a social marketing plan and expanding the Explore New Worlds campaign into Restart America.  Restart America was definitely an evolution of my previous work, and some elements are the same between both projects – “Have you had your democracy today?” is an example (a tagline I still greatly enjoy and am personally proud of developing).  Restart America also contained new elements too, such as a more in depth plan for the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) that was part of the campaign.

Creating Restart America was an amazing experience; I learned quite a bit during the process.  But we knew that it was a bit impractical – after all, there was  no way that my colleague and I were going to be able to throw together the kind of national advertising campaign outlined in Restart America by ourselves.  So we began to consider how we could scale down into something feasible for the NYU community.  We decided that given NYU’s then-recent efforts to “go green,” we would create a campaign focused on increasing awareness and discussion of sustainability efforts by the University and its students.

This is when we decided to rebrand ourselves as the Ademos Project (Ademos coming from a shortening of “Advertising Democracy”).  We then applied for Youth Venture’s “Be a Changemaker Challenge,”  and were able to secure $1000 of seed funding to proceed with our proof of concept project – the Are You Sustainable? campaign.  We created the Are You Sustainable? website as a place for the various groups focused on environmental sustainability at NYU to come together, but (unfortunately for us) they decided to head in another direction.  Unfortunately, the Ademos Project went no further than Restart America and Are You Sustainable?, but it was a great project to develop regardless, just for the educational experiences alone.

In a future entry I’ll probably write more in depth about the methodology of the Ademos Project, but examining the Explore New Worlds website is a great place to start.  If you have more questions about it, please feel free to comment away!