Future Normal has been a historic investment of resources from The Vegan Society, and we want to see it run and run.
The Vegan Society has just launched our most ambitious campaign yet, Future Normal. You’ll probably be surprised to hear that this is the first campaign focussed on animals that we’ve run in several years.
Given the climate crisis, we’ve used more recent resources to try to get veganism high on the environmental agenda, and encourage behaviour change towards low-carbon plant-based diets. We’ve still got a way to go in getting that message out there, but we felt the time was right to refocus our energies on what is at the core of the vegan movement – animals.
Our campaigns attempt to push for both individual behaviour change, and for system change via policy intervention.
Our political dialogues have been very much centred on the environmental angle – the feeling being that politicians would take seriously the science on climate-friendly diets, but the idea that we should care about animal exploitation is too emotive and lacking scientific weight.
Strange really, as anyone who has spent time with farmed animals, would know you don’t need an academic paper to tell you they feel pain and emotions.
Somehow we have normalised the exploitation of animals and any questioning of this exploitation is seen to be the domain of the immature or the extreme.
As part of this new campaign, we wanted to raise the credibility of the philosophy of veganism, and position animal exploitation as an issue that warrants serious contemplation, in line with other social justice issues.
We’re developing a series of policy asks that call for animals to have the right to life, to self-authorised identity, and the right to live their lives free from human exploitation.
But back to the main public campaign which you can explore at futurenormal.org.uk. Our campaign strategy began by looking into behaviour change science.
We know that embracing a vegan lifestyle is a huge change for most people. We’ve aimed to create real depth of content and we invite people to explore and reflect on their values, their relationship with animals, and their behaviour. We hope that by inviting this contemplation at a deep level, this will result in meaningful, long-term changes.
We then looked at existing campaigns from other vegan and animal rights organisations. We’re all small charities with limited resources so want to ensure our activities complement rather than duplicate each other.
The Vegan Society always takes a positive, non-judgemental approach, and we wanted to develop something that was more sophisticated in content than purely emotive imagery.
We identified our target audience as ‘animal lovers’. Thanks to the sinister world of social media advertising, we’re able to get our campaign messages directly to people who fit this category through their support of animal welfare charities such as RSPCA or Battersea Dogs Home, or due to owning a pet (or companion animal as we vegans call them).
We also referred to some of our previous research to hone down the audience to 20 – 35 year olds who we felt would be most receptive.
Working with creative agency, Up, we devised a host of campaign content for people to explore – all designed to provoke thinking and encourage reflection – from intimate ‘lightbulb moments’ from individuals who have embraced the Future Normal, to in-depth thought pieces with some challenging concepts, to a light-hearted quiz that inspires behaviour change.
The advertising campaign – designed to drive traffic to the website – taps in to people’s ideas of loving animals. The central campaign film uses imagery of children and animals, asking us to think about our relationships with all animals when we were children. This bucolic imagery is then disrupted by the harsh reality of how animals are presented in the food system. The contrast is powerful and will hopefully shake people’s grounding and begin the path of self-reflection.
A quick note on the campaign name – believe it or not, the name Future Normal was created in those heady days when Corona was just a delicious Mexican lager.
We were due to launch back in April, but held back because the time wasn’t right to be questioning people’s lifestyles. As time has gone on the name has become increasingly pertinent and we know that many people have used recent months to consider their values and their own impact on those around them.
The success of behaviour change campaigns such as this is challenging to measure. As mentioned, the core strategy of this campaign is to encourage a journey towards veganism and we aren’t expecting overnight success.
One of the calls to action is to sign up to Veganuary, a month long pledge that supports a transition to veganism, and something we can easily measure. We also introduced a ‘Commit’ section of the website, where we ask users some fairly direct questions about whether they are ready to change their behaviour. This will give us a useful insight into the impact of the campaign.
Future Normal has been a historic investment of resources from The Vegan Society, and we want to see it run and run. We’re hoping to be able to run content in cinemas, at events, and on out-of-home advertising over the next year. We’d love to hear your feedback on the campaign – particularly if you’re a ‘meat-eating animal lover’. If you check out the website, I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about your relationship with animals, join us and be part of the Future Normal.
Louise Davies is head of campaigns, policy and research at the Vegan Society.