Following the Money

Following the Money

DARK MONEY, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and which The Nation named “the most valuable documentary” on its Progressive Honor Roll, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials.

The film takes viewers to Montana — a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide — to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

In the process of developing DARK MONEY’s impact campaign strategy, it quickly became apparent that there was overwhelming public concern for the issue of money in politics that was matched with a correspondingly overwhelming sense of pessimism that anything could be done about it.

We recognized this as an opportunity to educate audiences about the wide range of policy and practice changes that could be undertaken and were, in fact, being actively pursued by an influential, relatively well-resourced, and bipartisan group of people and organizations, ranging from enforcement and safeguarding of existing disclosure laws to a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision.

Read the full case study.

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Starting a Conversation

Starting a Conversation

Journalist David France had tremendous success with his first documentary, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, the story of the origins of the AIDS activist movement in New York and the work of ACT UP and its offshoot, the Treatment Action Group (TAG). That film was made, in part, because of the amazing archival footage France was uncovering while researching a book on the same topic.

When the book David France was writing was eventually published – four years later – he looked to Aggregate for help in generating word of mouth to encourage sales. Aggregate worked in partnership with France’s publisher (Knopf) to produce and socialize a series of iPhone camera videos of people – such as actors Jeffrey Wright and Alan Cumming and activist Peter Staley.

In the weeks and months following the 2016 Presidential election, we actively engaged in the online conversation about the resistance to the new administration, positioning HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE as a blueprint for creating a successful effort to pressure the government to change its policies.

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Educating Decision Makers

Educating Decision Makers

Through Justice Reinvestment, the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center uses a data driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvests those savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism. To be successful, the Justice Center must engage stakeholders, including state legislators and local media, that need to have the issues explained to them—jargon-free—in manner that appeals to their self interests. Aggregate worked with the Center to develop a communications strategy, message platform, and a simple graphic that explains the unique, thorough, and valuable process that they undertake—and which has led to significant cost savings and public safety improvements in multiple states.

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Visualizing Data

Visualizing Data

When it comes to our bodies, data abounds. Unfortunately, the availability of data and the ability to use it to make effective decisions are not the same thing. More often than not, the information we receive about our health is difficult to understand and, as a result, nearly impossible to act on. Through Visualizing Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Michigan partnered to explore and share best practices for visualizing data to communicate health and risk information. Aggregate worked with the foundation to generate online word of mouth about Visualizing Health among those whose work involves communicating health information, as well as among designers, who are and could play a significant role in changing health outcomes. Our efforts to generate word of mouth included producing a video about the project.

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Reaching Common Ground

Reaching Common Ground

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Population and Reproductive Health program and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reproductive Health team hired us to undertake an analysis of the international population, reproductive health, and family planning communications landscape to gain a better understanding of how the field talks about their work and how these messages impact their ability to achieve their missions. We interviewed communications and program staff at leading foundations and NGOs in the field and conducted a traditional and social media audit. Our discovery process made it clear that, while there was interest in creating unified messaging, notable tensions existed between those who saw reproductive health primarily as a women’s rights issue and those who saw it as a driver in global poverty and global health. As a result, we recommended and developed a message platform that focused on shared objectives versus shared values.

The photo is by Possible Health and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

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Mobilizing Resources

Mobilizing Resources

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hired us to help Aeras which works to advance TB vaccine research and development, to strengthen their ability to be effective advocates for their own mission, as well as for research and development for other TB tools, e.g., more effective diagnostics and treatments. Later, Aeras hired Aggregate directly to work on two very different projects. The first was the development of a five-year resource mobilization strategy to guide the organization in their effort to generate funding and support from industry, government, and philanthropies worldwide. The strategy included tailored messages to appeal to the unique political and economic priorities of each potential resource. The second project included the creative development of a print and interactive online annual report that beckoned a new era for Aeras of engaging a broader constituency of individuals and organizations to enable them to achieve their goals.

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