Few days to the 27th of March and its Earth hour. The whole country is taking part in this global initiative to spread awareness about the scarse of resources on our planet Earth.
No matter how romantic the idea of saving the planet may sound, saving energy for one hour won’t make the Earth problems go away! But still, it must be feeling good to participate with the whole world at the same time in joint efforts to show your concerns about the planet; it is a reminder to everyone that we are over utilizing Earth’s resources; both on individual and group levels (whether this group is government, companies, etc.) A reminder that we should really re-evaluate our resources consumption approaches.
I am glad to see that the country and many of its government and private sector companies are taking part of this initiative, although the question ‘How?’ remains a mystery! In all cases, I really hope to see those tall business buildings with their many offices and those banks (especially banks!!) which leave their lights on all day and night for decoration purposes turning their lights off (I really hope they can do that every day, not only for an hour!!!)
Moreover, on a personal level, I am planning to participate in this hour. Bringing such topic into family discussions will definitely lead to some insights on how we are consuming resources available to us, in addition to give the children at the family a hint or two on how they should be dealing with those resource in a responsible manner. After all, we are really leaving them with a horrible legacy!
And for those of you living in Jeddah, you may want to have a look at this initiative named ‘Earth Hour Jeddah.’ There is a number of good hints on how you could participate and show you participation thereafter. Just do not forget to hear the lovely podcast of Nesreen and her guest Sharifah, the mastermind behind ‘Earth Hour Jeddah.’
On the 26th of last October, while talking about H1N1, its vaccination rumors, and how our ministry of health (MoH) was handling the subject, I posted the following concern:
‘Just imaging the situation when the vaccine becomes available and nobody is there to take it!’
[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=h1n1+vaccine&iid=6915375″ src=”b/4/a/1/Swine_Flu_Vaccinations_75a2.jpg?adImageId=8508625&imageId=6915375″ width=”234″ height=”341″ /]You do not have to imagine anymore because it is a fact by now; there is nobody taking the vaccine. According to Arab News (in English) and Al Watan (in Arabic), the vaccination campaign against H1N1 that started last Saturday is recording nothing but huge failure. In Jeddah, 300 students out of 300,000 accepted to be vaccinated. And for those of you with good mathematical skills, you’ve already figured out that the percentage is only 0.1%. Honestly, I did not see that coming; it is a really horrible percentage.
Think about it this way; imagine that you have had endured huge expenses to bring some kind of a product to the market but reality decided to slap you on the face saying ‘guess what? Customers do not want your product.’ Yes, the analogy isn’t that accurate; but the concept is still the same.
It is fair to say that MoH officials are trying, but it seems that they are not trying hard enough. All the signs of failure have been there since the beginning but they chose to ignore them.
They certainly need more work now than before. Number of solutions that they might follow could be:
Be Transparent: in my opinion, this is the most critical part of all. People are worried because they feel that MoH officials are not transparent enough. No one of them is directly addressing rumors and scientifically going through the controversies they are creating. Be open about the possible consequences of vaccination, if there is any!
Understand your Customers: what are their fears? Why they do not want their children to be vaccinated? Are they willing to have it themselves?
Reach your Customers: Go to schools, hospitals, or invite selected individuals who could influence others (e.g. Mosque Immams, company owners, TV or Radio hosts, University professors, etc …) and talk to them about how safe the vaccine is.
Launch an Endorsement Campaign: engage with a celebrity or a prominent society figure to speak to the public about the safety of the vaccination process.
Let’s wait and see how things will turn out to be!!
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Pepsi+can&iid=394787″ src=”0391/1f4d821b-06eb-4eae-895a-fa9cea0e7e7d.jpg?adImageId=8318799&imageId=394787″ width=”234″ height=”234″ /]It seems that the historical rivals, Pepsi and Coca-Cola, are getting along pretty well in Saudi Arabia. Just after few days of Pepsi increasing their prices by 50% (from 1 SAR to 1.5 SAR – from 0.3 $ to 0.4 $) Coca-Cola followed suit and increased its prices by the same percentage.
It does not a take a brain surgeon to conclude that they’ve agreed on the move beforehand. Although for some reasons, Pepsi decided to take the initiative.
The first consumers’ reactions were, expectedly, anger. Given that 50% price increase seems to be huge, let’s be honest, 1 riyal to 1.5 riyal does not make that big of difference on the average consumer anyway. The anger is just stemming out from the fact that the young generation heavily consuming these carbonated drinks has always been accustomed to this 1 riyal price; the price has been fixed for more than 30 years now! In addition to that, consumers just felt that they’ve been back stabbed by the unannounced surprise! On the other hand, healthy food advocates found it a good opportunity to intensify their campaigns against the possible health effects caused by carbonated drinks and to promote and support a transition from soft drinks to natural juices and water.
[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Coca+Cola+can&iid=3148359″ src=”f/2/b/1/SEC_Launches_Investigation_8388.jpg?adImageId=8318811&imageId=3148359″ width=”234″ height=”149″ /]On the Pepsi and Coca-Cola side, there is nothing but a mess! It just gives you the impression that the move has not been thoroughly thought of or well planned. Reports are claiming a 30% hit on the daily sales. We can argue that people will eventually accept and live with the new prices, but still, Pepsi and Coca-Cola should deal with the consumers serious consideration of totally cutting off or at least reducnig their carbonated drinks consumption.
My own understanding is that Pepsi and Coca-Cola made the following big mistakes:
– They did not prepare their customers to the change (I was about to write; they did not show respect to their customers.) They should’ve started a PR campaign informing their customers about the real reasons behind the expected increase in prices and announcing a specific date for new prices to be affective on. And not only customers, even their own distribution network. Their distributors looked more shocked than their customers. It is very obvious that Pepsi, in particular, has faced serious problems in its distribution channels just after the new price announcement. Pepsi cans just vanish from the shelves. I even saw one restaurant filling Coca-Cola cans in a Pepsi refrigerator.
– Their comments after the sudden change were weak and their explanations were unconvincing. To be more specific, I did not like the use of direct comparison between the prices in Saudi and its neighbors as a basis for justifying the prices increase. Actually, nobody asked how our prices are compared to our neighbors! The question was simple; why did you increase the prices?
Anyway, I want to you to put yourself in the shoes of a Pepsi/Coca-Cola fan (if you are not a one already!) and answer this quick poll …
At the beginning of the last month I wrote a post called ‘What do you mean no to cancer?’ about a Saudi campaign promoting cancer awareness. My main point was that campaign slogan was lame and not only that; it was a bit offensive.
Now, I want you to compare that campaign with the one carried out by the staff of the Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, USA. The breast cancer awareness programs usually encourage participants to wear those little pink ribbons so whoever sees them will be reminded of the cause. However, those staff decided to change the rules of the game and go out and dance … literally!
The video showing more than 200 of the hospital staff dancing made a surprising success. It was posted online around the beginning of Nov. and it is passing 2,000,000 hits by now on Youtube. Although the success of the video was beyond the hospital staff expectations, the surprising success goes even further to include the cancer patients themselves. The simplicity, fun, heartwarming feelings surrounding the video made it appealing to patients to relate to the video, to feel it. Reportedly, many patients celebrated the video, and sometimes with tears, and found it so passionate in delivering the message about their disease. Now watch the video:
It worth mentioning here that the idea was originally created by the company that actually produced those pink gloves to remind people of the cause whenever they see them. Of course that before the hospital took it a bit further by their dancing video. Now the company is donating part of its pink gloves profits to support women who cannot afford mammograms checks payments.
So we have three goals scored by one ball; a company advertised its product, a hospital contributed to a noble awareness campaign, and … can you guess the third goal?
Let me put this way, don’t you just want to go there and shake hands with those hospital staff? Carrying out that dance throughout the hospital own rooms and being happy and acting ‘goofy’ on the same time gave the impression that this is a happy place to be around. Yes, it is a hospital, we know, it is usually associated with pain and sickness, but this place! It seems everybody is having fun so there is a huge chance that I might find a good treatment over there! Let me end with the comment from one of the cancer patients after seeing the video: ‘laughter is the ultimate medicine’ …
It has been three days now since I start noticing some kind of ads on street billboards with few words on them and bunch of logos stating ‘Yes to life … No to cancer.’ Now, I do not know if it is only me … or these few words are bit offensive!
It turned out that these ads are part of the Saudi ministry of health (MoH) cancer awareness campaign. And it seems that a similar campaign with a similar tagline had taken place last year as well. This is something we should all be thankful for and MoH should be credited for their efforts in providing the public with basic information about how to prevent cancer by cutting out bad habits like smoking or considering preliminary medical care to minimize breast cancer. But with this tagline … pleeeeeeease!!!
Cancer is not something that can be easily prevented by covering your mouth while sneezing or running out of a room when someone lights a cigarette. So what about those who already have cancer and happen to see these ads; why should we tell them that they have a disease that is against life. In other words, why should we shout at them that cancer means death (we know that this is not true in all cases)!! I can hardly imagine how emotionally and psychologically affecting such a message is for those who have cancer or those who lost someone because of it?
The bottom line is that this tagline gives you the impression that you should be blamed if you got cancer. And if you got it, you are an outcast (No to cancer!!). This sense of guilt and responsibility is not the right message that should be communicated in an awareness campaign, or any campaign for that matter. People tend to show resistance to any blames and that usually lead them to take a defensive position and miss the whole point of such ads.