Clicktivism breakdown: Slavery Footprint

Clicktivism Breakdown is an ongoing series dissecting online campaigns piece by piece to discover the anatomy of successful digital engagement.

I recently stumbled across Slavery Footprint and immediately fell in love. A little bit of time has passed since then and the allure of the shiny and slick design of the site has faded, revealing a few structural problems I was blind to before. But what’s left in the cold light of day is a solid campaign that misses a few key opportunities. Read on for my full take on the site.

What is Slavery Footprint?

Slavery Footprint is a website that calculates, approximately, how many slaves have been used to make the products that you use everyday.

Made In A Free WorldAs you go through the site you answer a set of questions about how many and what types of products you own (clothes, electronics, sporting goods, etc.).

At the end of the process the site tabulates how many slaves are involved in maintaining your lifestyle. You’re assigned your score – for the record I got 24 – and given the option to learn more and take action.

Accompanying the site is a Foursquare-esque mobile app – which I haven’t had the chance to try – that allows you to check in at stores. Once you’ve checked in you are then able to send an email directly to over 1,000 brands, demanding they end the use of slavery in their products. The replies from these brands can then be added to a crowd-sourced database.

What they did right

First of all let me say that the visual design of the site is phenomenal. The art style and layout are compelling and encourage you to follow through to the end, which is no small feat when you consider that there are so many steps to the process.

It's a fact that people love sharing facts

The social integration on this site is, for the most part (see below), astounding and something to be emulated. On each page as you progress there is a small factoid pertaining to the issue of slavery (glance to your left for an example). Each of these small interesting facts is in turn accompanied by share buttons.

This is ingenious for two reasons. Firstly people love small facts and will readily share them (see Greenpeace’s Tweet the Energy [R]evolution). This helps raise awareness for your organization/campaign/issue with the added benefit of the social credentials you get by having the message spread by people to their own friends/followers; their interest in your project and sharing it grants you a degree of legitimacy with their friends. These factoids are on each page and each one in and of itself is tweet/share worthy. I’m generally very wary of spamming people on Twitter but I would honestly consider sending out multiple tweets as I went through the site, thus amplifying Slavery Footprint’s message.

Finally the fact that you receive a score, in a perverse way, at the end does make you want to share the campaign and rank yourself with your friends in what will probably be an annoyingly self-righteous way. I know I did.

Where they stumbled

There are two main issues with the campaign as far as I’m concerned. First, let’s start off with the fact that you’re entering a hell of a lot of personal information, especially if you sign-up with your email. Now, I normally wouldn’t bring this up, particularly since their privacy section is quite comprehensive and deals with this issue – they aren’t really storing anything of note and what they do is solely for their own use – but I did have this concern brought up to me by multiple people who played around with the site. I can’t really fault Slavery Footprint here as there’s no way around executing this campaign without the survey, but perhaps the disclaimer about personal information could be more prominent. Food for thought for anyone looking to this campaign for inspiration.

The second issue is one of a lost opportunity. Those tweets I was raving about before, while here’s what it actually looks like when you send them out.

Notice anything odd? That’s right, there’s no link to either the site or Slavery Footprint’s Twitter account – in fact I had to search Twitter to find their account. That’s one giant misstep in my opinion. As I’m writing this the Slavery Footprint site has been shared on Twitter more than 44,000 times.


Their Twitter account (@Slave_Footprint) has 438 followers. Now I’m not implying that if they included their Twitter handle and url that they’d instantly have 44k more followers and 44k more hits – that’s ridiculous – but even a fraction of that would be significant.

I’ve been racking my brain and I can’t think of any reason to not include either or both of those. Any trade off would have to be minuscule compared to the possible gains. In some very specific circumstances I can see the argument that a hashtag is more important than a Twitter handle but that’s a very tough, and very nerdy, sell. I just cannot see why you would not want to add followers so that you can keep them updated and informed. Attention on the Internet is transient enough without handicapping yourself.


Slavery Footprint is a fantastic campaign that makes you consider how your everyday life impacts those around the world, probably in ways that you never considered before. While they suffer from a few missteps I’d gladly look to them for inspiration and wish them the best of luck.

Also, give them a follow on Twitter.

What are your thoughts on Slavery Footprint’s campaign? Leave a comment below to let us know.