G(irls)20 Summit holds online ‘Change Room’ chat

An extensive viral campaign engaged young women who want to discuss global poverty and health concerns before the (male-dominated) G20 Summit in Toronto this month, explains CEO of Veritas Communications, Beverley Hammond.

In a few weeks, some of the world’s most important decision-makers, in charge of the global economy and international health funding, will gather in Toronto. But a weekend before that, on June 15 to 18, a group that is much younger and predominantly female will have their own say about poverty, reproductive health and other issues women face around the globe at the G(irls)20 Summit, sponsored by the Belinda Stronach Foundation.

This past May, a viral international campaign was built for the ’3.3 Billion Ways’ initiative, anchored by the GirlsandWomen.com website, where visitors are encouraged to start discussions in the ‘Change Room’ message board. Vistors can sign up for a randomly generated number (‘There are 3.3 billion girls and women. What’s your number?’) and then comment on the message boards using that number, and promote it on their social media pages as well. Since it launched last month, more than 8,500 people have registered for a number online. The Change Room microsite has had more than 10,000 votes on 516 different topics and the G(irls) 20 Facebook group gained more 4,200 Facebook fans, explains Beverley Hammond, president and CEO of Veritas Communications, the agency in charge of developing the campaign.

The idea took shape this past February during a dinner with a group of female Canadian media professionals arranged by Magna International executive vice chairman Belinda Stronach. ‘We started with the understanding that girls and young women love to talk and love to share information. Our job was to make it easy for them to do that,’ Hammond tells MiC.

Developed by MacroBlu, the digital investment combined Facebook API and Connect, making the girls’ unique number a link to the website, says Hammond. The initiative was seeded to influential bloggers, social media ads are promoting the summit on Facebook and Google, and CTV, a media partner, is airing PSAs, one which was broadcast before Grey’s Anatomy last month. Partner NGOs around the world that may not have acess to the internet were also given a toolkit to distribute information and generate interest.

The 21 participants (from all the G20 countries plus Malawi) have been chosen, and the summit will be broadcast on the web, with potential for further discussion on the topics, says Hammond.