Getting the message right takes more than a group of communication practitioners. You need to go to the experts: those to whom the message is intended.
When IOM X develops videos, it conducts consultations with people from its target audience. For Prisana: An IOM X Drama, IOM X invited a group of young people to get together and talk about the fishing industry.
During the discussion, it emerged that all of the participants ate seafood almost every day. However, when asked if they knew where this seafood actually came from, nobody had an answer – except that the fish most likely came from the sea. Most of the participants thought the fishing industry was dominated by private family businesses, when in reality small-scale operations like this cannot satisfy our insatiable appetite for seafood.
The group was asked to think about what it is actually like to work on a boat. They recognized that this work is tough; they said fishermen have to work all the time, there is nothing to eat, wages are low, it is dangerous, they are likely to suffer accidents, they are separated from their families and can be cheated by their employers. One of the participants pointed out that fishermen are probably afraid of quarreling with the boat owner because he could easily harm them.
IOM X then asked the group if they thought that human trafficking happens in the fishing industry. Surprisingly, the answer was no.
Despite the fact that they had just described conditions of labour exploitation on fishing boats, the young people were surprised to learn that is in fact human trafficking. In their eyes, human trafficking is something that only happens to women and girls in the sex industry. They didn’t associate manual labour with human trafficking, or recognize that men and boys could be victims.
Working together with Thailand’s most famous on-screen couple, Mario Maurer and Mai Davika Hoorne, and superstar actor/producer Ananda Everingham, IOM X used its findings from the group discussion to develop Prisana: An IOM X Drama. The emotional video tells the story of a photojournalist who helps a migrant woman find her husband, who has been trafficked onto a fishing boat.
To test whether Prisana accomplished its goal of raising awareness about human trafficking in the fishing industry, and inspiring young people to learn more about the issue, IOM X surveyed 100 Thai nationals before and after watching the video.
The results showed that Prisana is a great tool to help raise awareness on human trafficking in the fishing industry. Participants felt the drama is excellent at making viewers feel concerned about trafficking victims and encourages people to learn more about the subject.
Prisana also helped to strengthen positive behaviours that help prevent trafficking and labour exploitation as 64% of viewers said they were more likely to support fishing companies that follow fair practices. Additionally 52% of those surveyed said they would speak to others about human trafficking in the fishing industry.
While Prisana was successful at raising awareness and encouraging people to take positive actions to help prevent exploitation, the video was not particularly successful at shifting negative attitudes towards migrant workers in the fishing industry. However, this result did not come as a surprise; changing attitudes is extremely difficult and is unlikely to be accomplished through a short video. Unfortunately such negative attitudes exist not only in Thailand but are pervasive across the region and around the globe.
Changing people’s perceptions and attitudes is difficult and takes a long time and continued exposure. But if successful, a change in perceptions and attitudes can inspire behaviour change that can make a real difference in the lives of those facing labour exploitation. The key is working with your target audience to get the message right.