Counting the cost of corruption

As with many of the ailments that plague our governments, corruption is one of those things that’s hard for people to quantify. We know it’s bad, but how can we illustrate its true cost to the people? To tackle this problem, FCB Brazil has created an easy-to-use calculator that shows users the price of corruption on policy and progress.

In Brazil, where instability and scandal have repeatedly rocked the nation, corruption is a big topic for those living in South America’s largest country. Its presence in politics, health, food and oil persistently grace the headlines of Brazilian media, which is why Brazilian newspaper O Estadão de São Paulo wanted a tool that would help put those headlines in real-life terms. 

The tool, which is called Real to Reality, does this by converting the amount of money evaded in the corruption scandals reported by Estadão’s website into services and products which people understand, such as school lunches, ambulances, vaccines and water.

To further drive home the message, the tool juxtaposes news about money lost from corruption with news about areas where money is needed.

For example, the explainer video for Real to Reality shows 316 million Brazilian Real (approximately $147 million NZD) that was reported to have been lost from corruption equates to over 2 million H1N1 vaccines, 14 million repellants, 142 million school lunches, 632,000 water trucks, or 2,633 low-income houses. 

Estadão’s efforts is part of a wider trend among media organisations using advertising to convey the importance of its work in challenging political circumstances. For example, The New York Times has been running a multichannel campaign to promote the value of journalism in the age of fake news and Trump, while the The Washington Post announced earlier in the year that it was changing its slogan to ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’.

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