While social media can be a great tool for educating the public, the important stuff often gets lost in a sea of “memes”. Memes are defined by Oxford Dictionary as “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by internet users.” They permeate the web and have done little to educate the public, let alone save lives… until now.
September was Baby Safety Month and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission always utilizes social media to run campaigns about dangers infants face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were about 3,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths in 2017. Around 900 of those were due to accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed, usually caused by an excess of blankets and pillows.
With such an important cause, Joseph Galbo, the social media strategist behind the account, didn’t want the important message to be buried by all the memes that cover people’s timelines, especially the younger parents the campaign was targeting. He decided if you can’t beat them, join them and came up with “The Great Baby” Twitter Campaign.
The campaign consisted of a farmer being visited by a big floating baby that warns him about the dangers of suffocation and other forms of sudden unexpected infant deaths, while also complaining about the bugs and swamp smell of the field the farmer is standing in.
Another photo from the campaign shows a man with a tinfoil hat on that reads “stop I don’t believe in the Great Baby. I do believe parents should check for recalled products on CPSC.gov and go to SaferProducts.gov to see if children have been injured by a product before they buy.”
No government account has ever gone the route of creating memes in order to spread the word about public safety, but because of the success of “The Great Baby” we may see more campaigns like this in the future. Many businesses have started to use this technique on social media, especially twitter, to make them seem more relatable and come off as a person rather than a faceless brand.
Galbo has used a variety of other characters and minimal photoshop skills to create similar campaigns over his three years at CPSC. He claims that they aren’t a huge social media agency with tons of funding so he gets creative with how he captures people’s attention. “The Great Baby” was the first one that really took off, mainly due to the utter absurdness of a floating baby in the sky warning people about potential safety issues.
Even though most of the attention came from people laughing at the memes, the message was presented in a way that it wouldn’t be lost.
Thousands of people saw those safety precautions and they could very well end up saving the lives of infants all over the world.
“If I had a larger social media advertising budget, I probably would be making things that are a little bit more normal,” Galbo admitted in an interview wih Fast Company, but stands by his humorous campaign, “If you get people to pay attention, you can save kids’ lives.”