Unreal Campaign Adapts to ‘New Normal’ with Virtual Education…

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In the era of social distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Trademark Association (INTA) has adapted its Unreal Campaign education program for students. The campaign has gone virtual—to teach young consumers about the dangers of purchasing counterfeit products while also providing schools with valuable content for their students during this time of remote learning.

INTA’s Unreal Campaign historically has educated young consumers, aged 14–23, through in-school presentations around the world, but the pandemic caused a rapid shift in process to accommodate remote learning.

“Schools were quickly moving to virtual learning options, and we needed to figure out a way to continue to get our message to young people around the world. Shifting our presentation style was a natural fix, and it’s been very well received,” said INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo.

The Unreal Campaign has hosted 11 virtual presentations in English, reaching nearly 2,200 high school and college-aged students in Argentina, India, Israel, Nigeria, the Philippines, and the United States since it switched to online learning in March. Most recently, on July 15, the Unreal Campaign participated in a virtual “Intellectual Property Boost Camp" organized by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines which drew nearly 100 students from 21 schools.

The Campaign’s virtual presentations emphasize the impact of counterfeiting, such as health and safety risks, and demonstrate how students may be able to distinguish fake goods from real products. They also provide an overview of the value of trademarks and brands, including giving examples of marks that resonate with young consumers.

The Unreal Campaign’s message about the dangers of counterfeit products has become even more relevant of late, due to the global proliferation of counterfeit products related to the COVID-19 crisis. For example, as of July 22, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations reported the seizure of over 871 shipments of mislabeled, fraudulent, unauthorized, or prohibited test kits, treatment kits, homeopathic remedies, purported anti-viral products, and personal protective equipment.

Going virtual gives volunteer presenters, who are INTA members, the opportunity to interact with students in a new way. Recent presentations have featured live polling and real-time question and answer sessions, for example.

Additionally, volunteers have recorded virtual presentations in English, Italian, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish for future use. They plan to approach online learning centers about adding these virtual presentations to their platforms. The Campaign has amplified its social media output and created short videos to help further reach its target audience.

“Our goal of spreading our message as far as we can remains the same. The success of virtual presentations indicates there is an opportunity for us to continue down this avenue even in the future along with in-person presentations when those are possible again,” said Mr. Sanz de Acedo.

The Unreal Campaign has successfully reached over 45,000 students directly in 40 countries since its launch in 2012.
To inform an even wider audience, the Unreal Campaign last year extended its age range to include consumers up to 23 years old. The expanded reach was a direct outcome of the findings of INTA’s Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products multi-country study that explores the behavior of Gen Z—the largest group of consumers worldwide—when it comes to their relationship with brands and attitudes toward counterfeit products. The study found that 79 percent of respondents purchased counterfeit products in the year prior to the survey.

To learn more about bringing an Unreal presentation to your school or community organization, email unrealcampaign@inta.org.

About the International Trademark Association (INTA)
The International Trademark Association (INTA) is a global association of brand owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property (IP) to foster consumer trust, economic growth, and innovation. Members include nearly 6,500 organizations, representing more than 34,350 individuals (trademark owners, professionals, and academics) from 185 countries, who benefit from the Association’s global trademark resources, policy development, education and training, and international network. Founded in 1878, INTA is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Singapore, and Washington, D.C., and representatives in Geneva and New Delhi. For more information, visit inta.org

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