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Survive the Blast, a Global Zero Campaign


Engaging Supporters with a Few "What ifs" and a Touch of "Reality" through Video, Facebook and Gaming


Survive the Blast is a digital media campaign created by Global Zero, a nonprofit focused on the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Since its launch in Paris in December 2008, Global Zero has grown to include more than 400,000 supporters worldwide.

Looking to test the limits of what nonprofits traditionally can do, Global Zero wanted to engage supporters in a new, more visual way that would educate and bring awareness to the dangers of a nuclear explosion. The goal was to promote the idea that this threat could really happen — a concept so foreign to many of today's generations. Created in three languages (English, French and German), the Survive the Blast campaign involved a mixture of video, Facebook integration and gamification elements.

"Survive the Blast uses Facebook to target your current city and nearby friends, walking you through a nuclear catastrophe in your area," said Erin Girardi, digital engagement manager, Global Zero. "Once you witness the blast, you get the chance to rescue all of your friends. You have a chance to be the hero of your virtual fallout zone. We wanted to bring a sense of authenticity to the campaign and make the game element fun at the same time."

Targeting a younger demographic, friends challenge other friends to beat each other on the leader board. The result — a sharing tool where "saved" Facebook friends post on other friends' walls, educating and ultimately spreading Global Zero's message.

Erin added, "Creating a realistic situation was important to us because a nuclear disaster is a real threat but none of us have had to live through that so how can we picture it? How would we even know what it would be like and why would we work hard to get rid of the threat unless there was some taste of reality involved."

To move Survive the Blast from a concept in a conference room to a live campaign, Global Zero had two challenges to address:

  • Convince its team that taking a risk with such an important message was the right thing to do. Would there be any negative fallout?
  • Facebook changes frequently — there were many technical questions to address including the FB permissions that changed twice during the development of the app.

Survive the Blast was an evolution that took a couple of months before it went into production. Erin added, "It's hard when money is involved for a lot of nonprofits. We generally don't take risks to promote our messages, so this was an exciting step for us."

Building a supporter base with Salsa Labs

Salsa, creator of the online and fully integrated platform for nonprofit fundraising, communications, advocacy and organizing, changed the nature of how Global Zero built its base of supporters—transforming essential activities into a single, fully integrated, cloud-based system. Salsa enables Global Zero to manage online campaigns, build and segment its supporter lists and take charge of email outreach efforts.

Salsa’s email features allowed the nonprofit to create and send engaging and effective emails to its supporters all from one tool. The process was simple—write, target, send and track. Global Zero can tag and track supporters who come in from the Survive the Blast campaign or any other campaigns that have been created. Within 30 days of launch, more than 7,500 Facebook users had played the Survive the Blast game.

"We have had a big increase in followers on our Facebook page and are very happy with the success we have had so far with this campaign," said Erin. "We will continue to have apps integrated into our Facebook page so supporters can sign our petition and be tracked and sorted by Salsa's Supporter Management tools."

The Year Ahead

With President Obama securely in office for another four years, Global Zero will raise its profile in January knowing the nonprofit has the support of the President and many other leaders across the globe.

"In January Global Zero plans to target its campaigns more to the general public and less to the policy people that already know about us," said Erin. "If you are a policy person, generally you support Global Zero because it makes sense. If you are among the general public and not behind the scenes, it's a scary thought to eliminate nuclear weapons."

Global Zero will continue to push to educate and shift the mentality in an effort to create a nuclear-free world.