Tuesday, July 11, 2006

World Cup lessons

Zidane’s Greek tragedy at the end of the World Cup Final on Sunday was maybe not the best example of self-control for our children.

But one good thing about it was that it reminded everyone that Gods, and even Semi-Gods, do not exist.

I told a friend yesterday that the incident reminded me of so many campaigns in which I had been involved. We would anticipate nearly every possible situation and would have pre-planned scenarios for next to everything imaginable. But suddenly – bang! – something unpredictable would make all the planning irrelevant. That’s what we call “anticipating the unpredictable”, as a way to say that there is a limit to planning, and that anyway much will depend on the flexibility you allow yourselves, and on the skills and intelligence of every individual involved. You can't always rely only on good leaders; you need a good team.

In the world of political and NGO campaigners, comparing the lack of concern for "serious issues" with the attention given to sporting events has always been a cliché. Just like comparing the numbers of football team fans with those of NGO supporters.

[I remember that a few years ago, Greenpeace-Spain announced proudly that they had more paying supporters than Real Madrid; that was impressive of course, but – still – they were far from having more supporters than Madrid+Barcelona.]

Well, the FIFA website during this World Cup was so good and so fast to deliver news and updates, it’s not surprising that they're so successful. If I was an NGO Communications Director, I would go head-hunt immediately some of the guys who did the FIFA website, as I suppose a number of them were on a temporary contract.

[If you scroll down on the FIFA portal, at the bottom of the left-hand column, you will find links to UNICEF and UNITAID (an international drug purchase initiative). Like pilot fish around the bodies and in the mouth of sharks and other large fishes, several organizations play an important cleaning function for FIFA, and they pick up some of the crumbs. Other organizations, such as Greenpeace and Oxfam have been using the football frenzy in their own ways.]

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