Video Transcript

00:09 Ben Rattray: There is a woman walking down the street in Cape Town, South Africa, and she gets grabbed and thrown to a shack, it was about two years ago, and she's raped and almost killed. And the reason was she's a lesbian woman and the man was trying to turn her straight. It's this phenomenon called 'Corrective Rape.' It happens more than 10 times a week in Cape Town alone and most of the time, it's one of the most heinous things you can imagine. Well that wasn't new, what was new was what happened next. Ndume, this woman here, a friend of that woman who's own partner had been raped and killed, the same incident just a year before, decided to do something about it. She goes to an internet cafe outside in Cape Town. She starts a petition calling at government to stop ignoring the issue and they take action.

01:00 Rattray: She didn't have any network, any friends, except the crazy compelling story and something called the internet. And she starts this petition, over the next seven days, 150,000 people joined the campaign, becomes this massive national story, it embarrasses the national government. It's a major story on the internet and social. And in the internet on the radio, public television, they bring up the Minister of Justice of South Africa, who until this point had ignored the issue entirely. They interrogate him, he apologizes, says he's gonna meet with the women. The women then meet him, organize for a month in front of the Parliament using these online tools, and pressure Parliament after decades of ignoring issue entirely to pass a national task force to investigate, and to stop the incident of Corrective Rape in that country. A remarkable story.

01:49 Rattray: This is one of the seemingly most structurally disadvantaged people on earth. And Ndume started the most powerful online movement in the history of her country. Incredible illustration of everyday people power using very simple online tools and in direct response to this recognized that all these things we build, these complicated super structures, to try to empower people to create change. We overlook the simplest, oldest tool in politics, the simple petition tool. Just an ability to aggregate like-minded people together and mobilize them for collective actions. So, it ripped out everything else in the site over the next week. And since then there has been some incredible viral distribution of these campaigns, all around the world, issues large and small. This is the growth of the membership of the organization over the past few years. The middle of that graph in 2010-'11 across the year, but the beginning of 2011 was Ndume started her campaign.

02:42 Rattray: And we're now growing actually now more than 3,000,000 new users a month all around the world, have about 200 staff in 18 countries, helping people run these amazing movements. When I highlighted a few of the kind of things that we're seeing because when you have internet platforms launch, you end up seeing things that are wholly unexpected. You build a platform like Kickstarter is a great example. They had no idea the product advance placement they were gonna see on this and we didn't know all the incredible things would happen, that never have happened really before in advocacy.

03:12 Rattray: So, this is one of the biggest campaigns that happened earlier in that stage, the biggest in the US was the Bank of America. As you might have recalled about two years ago, they had just passed a law in Congress to make a difficult to switch your bank and then had been bailed out by the American taxpayer and were making record profits and then laying off people, simultaneously. And they also announced they are gonna impose the $5 fee for all existing customers to use their own bank card every month. And so, a lot of consumer outrage, a lot of organizations were pissed off about this. But not a lot of reaction until a 22-year-old part-time nanny, Molly Katchpole decides to start a petition. She asks the Bank of America to do what it promised, to serve her and to rescind the $5 fee that she didn't know about when she joined the bank.

04:00 Rattray: And 300,000 people joined her over the next month. She becomes a huge permanent fixture of day-time Television. She is on ABC, NBC, CBS. She goes in, it's in DC down here on 18th Street in the city, goes in front of Bank of America, pulls her money out, cuts her card in front of the cameras. Pandemonium, huge, huge brands exposure for Bank of America. And after a month of campaigning, being subject to all these critique, Bank of America announces in response to Molly Katchpole, they are gonna rescind the $5 fee ad does every other major national bank that would have otherwise copied them. Incredible illustration of everyday person doing some extraordinary stuff, and in response of this what you often see is you see people model behavior online and then mirror it. So, it's this incredible outgrowth of campaigns around petitioning companies to be their best selves.

04:48 Rattray: One of my favorite campaigns earlier this year was this kid, Carson, who is four years old in Georgia, ended up needing cochlear implants; otherwise would be entirely deaf. But his insurer was the only large insurer in the country who didn't cover cochlear implants. So, normally what you do is you would go, sort of privately lobby, write a bunch of letters, and that's what his mom did for the insurance company. But she had seen all these other campaigns take off, and she decided to try it herself, and starts to petition asking the insurance company to do what it promises to do, which is to serve her family and to help their health care. It gets tens of thousands of people immediate response, embarrasses the company on social media as we've talked about over the past couple of days, incredibly important, this radical transparency. And the company in direct response announces not only are they going to give Carson his ears back, which is, how the campaign was framed, but actually change the policy for every other kid across that insurance company. And then, [inaudible] spawned a huge number of campaigns all across the country around insurance companies actually being their best selves.

05:52 Rattray: One other interesting example I'll highlight here is we've got actually increasing numbers of young people starting campaigns. This a fourth-grade class in California, Sun Valley, California, and they love Crayola. They draw things all the time and they found out though that Crayola didn't at the time recycle its pens. And more than 100 million pens every single year, these felt-tip pens would actually be just thrown into the garbage. And so naturally, what they do is they petition Crayola to be its best self. They petition Crayola to recycle the pens. They get like 40,000 people to join and Crayola has to respond. It's this massive public story. It's all over the media. They get questioned all the time. And Crayola initial response is, "We would love to do this, but it's just too hard to do." And of course the response of a major recycling company is, "Actually we can help you do it."

06:40 Rattray: Over the next year because of this fourth-grade class now, as of about two months ago, Crayola is recycling every single one of this more than 100 million pens a year because of the fourth graders, and this is spreading everywhere. More than 25,000 petitions a month, more than a dozen campaigns a day are winning on the site all around the world. Many of them corporate practices, some of them national policies, others just saving your local park.