Changing Policies Using Creativity

It is not impossible for the government to make policies that are not acceptable to many people. This is happening in Indonesia (such as the 2021 Job Creation Law) and in other countries around the world. This triggers many parties in society who want to change policies, ranging from activists, students, community groups (usually those who will not benefit from the policies), civil society organizations (CSOs), to just individuals who are against government policies.

By Lavinia Rahmawati
September 09, 2021
Methods that have been used to change policies

It is usually CSOs or activists who initiate movements to change policies, but not a few of the general public support the movement. Various ways have been done to change the policy, among others:

1. Demonstration
In Indonesia, demonstrations have become a common practice since the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrations occurred almost every day in Indonesia, especially Jakarta.

You may remember the great demonstrations that have taken place in Indonesia. For example the Tritura Demonstration (1966) which demanded three things, namely the disbandment of the PKI and its mass organizations, reshuffling the Dwikora cabinet, and lowering prices. Then, there was the Reformation Demonstration (1998) where students occupied the DPR to remove President Suharto from his 32-year position. This is one of the biggest demonstrations in Indonesian history. Then there was the Demonstration Against Fuel Price Increase (2012) which was carried out by the labor union by surrounding the DPR building. Then there was the 212 Demonstration led by FPI which demanded Ahok to step down from his position as governor of DKI Jakarta after violating the blasphemy article. In addition, there were demonstrations against the RUKHP and the revision of the KPK Law (2019) regarding controversial articles1.

Although demonstrations are freedom of expression and part of human rights that must be protected, many people do not agree with demonstrations for fear of anarchy and disturbing public spaces. This fear is often used by “unscrupulous” people who want the public to lose sympathy for the protesters, or even the issues they are promoting.

2. Online petition
A petition is a statement submitted to the government to request that the government take action against something. The petition is carried out by asking for the signatures of several people who show support for the petition. In online petitions, signatures can be submitted via a platform such as and the number of signatures sought can be very large to strengthen the petition.

An example of an online petition that has successfully attracted the attention of many people is the petition to abolish the National Examination. The petition received 24 thousand supporters and succeeded in getting a response from the Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim who issued a policy to abolish the National Examination and replace it with a new program2.

Petitions can indeed be a way to voice disapproval of something that is set by the government or carried out by a party. However, unfortunately in Indonesia itself there are no regulations that oblige the Indonesian government to respond to petitions, under any circumstances. Unlike the United States, there are certain conditions that can force the government to act. If a petition gets more than 100,000 endorsements within 30 days of the petition being created3, the United States government must respond in various ways, for example the government must provide a statement or update policy within 60 days4.

3. Campaign
Campaigns can have practical goals that pursue social change. There are two types of campaigns like this according to Charles U. Larson, namely:
  • Candidate-oriented campaigns are carried out by political candidates to gain supporters in political activities in a government.
  • Ideological or cause campaigns or social change campaigns that are oriented towards specific goals and often have the dimension of social change
The two types of campaigns above can use various media such as above the line (such as billboards) and below the line (such as newsletters or canvassing aka face to face with residents, door to door). However, online campaigns are popularly used for cause campaigns due to limited funds, and we know that online campaigns are relatively cheaper.

One of the online campaigns in the form of a social change campaign is the #SahkanRUUPKS campaign. This campaign was proposed by Komnas Perempuan in 2013 and the current condition is that the government is pressing for the ratification of the PKS Bill immediately to the DPR. The large number of netizens who participated in this campaign made the hashtag #SahkanRUUPKS viral in 2020. Although this campaign is classified as very popular in the community, the changes demanded have still not been achieved.

With the development of the internet, online campaigns have become one of the most popular ways to demand government changes to policy. In addition to the low cost, online campaigns can be a solution to the problems that will be faced if you carry out face-to-face campaigns during this pandemic.

What Is True Creativity?
communication strategy, communication consultant, CSO communication, non-profit communication, communication training, NGO communication, communication for change
The more creative his business, the more visible his ability to penetrate the echo chamber and recruit supporters from the general public who previously did not care about the issue.
After getting to know the ways that have been used to change policy, we know that there is no way that guarantees success. However, there are actually efforts to make a demand more supported by citizens, so that it has more potential to encourage change. This is creativity. The more creative his business, the more visible his ability to penetrate the echo chamber and recruit supporters from the general public who previously did not care about the issue.

Before I describe an example of a successful business changing policy with creativity, let’s first learn what true creativity is. Creativity is about process and results. Creativity is not only about originality, but can also build on what is. Creativity is imagining new and better ways of doing things, sharing or expressing them and bringing them to life5.

Success Stories in Changing Policy with Creativity

We already know that true creativity is closely related to making something new. Now, we will understand more deeply about creativity to change policy through its successful examples.

1. The Tampon Book
communication strategy, communication consultant, CSO communication, non-profit communication, communication training, NGO communication, communication for change
This book was created to evade the tampon tax because the tampons provided free of charge through the purchase of this book cannot be subject to tampon tax.
In America and Europe, tampons are taxed at 19% which is higher than luxury goods such as paintings and caviar, which are only 7%. Then, a German online company that sells tampons called The Female Company created The Tampon Book. The founders of this company know that there will be no changes to the tampon tax if they use the usual way of changing policies such as petitions.

This book was created to evade the tampon tax because the tampons provided free of charge through the purchase of this book cannot be subject to tampon tax. The book, which contains educational but humorous content about menstruation and gender equality, sold 10,000 copies in just two weeks.

The Tampon Book eventually became a political message. This message is spread by the community as well as influencers. In addition, Germany’s largest television station put pressure on the Ministry of Finance on this issue. In addition, female politicians and female German members of the parliament began distributing The Tampon Book. There is also a petition on with 150,000 signatures requiring the German Legal Affairs Committee to discuss the tampon tax6. Until finally in January 2020, the tampon tax was successfully lowered to 7%7.

2. Carrefour ‘Black Supermarket’
communication strategy, communication consultant, CSO communication, non-profit communication, communication training, NGO communication, communication for change
Carrefour ‘Black Supermarket’.
Carrefour is against European Union law which only allows trade in 3% of vegetables and fruits, while the other 97% is illegal simply because it is not listed in the Official EU Species Catalog. When this law was originally enacted, its aim was to protect consumers. However, lately this law is being abused. Lobbyists from the agrochemical industry changed this rule so that only the grain they produce is on the list. As a result, these regulations are not intended for food safety, but for business.

Farmers who violate this law can be subject to sanctions that can make them bankrupt. Farmers are forced to rely on seeds with patents owned by the agrochemical industry. As a result, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 90% of agricultural varieties disappeared from the rest of the world in the 20th century. In addition, consumers are missing out on healthier and eco-friendly food options. So, the problem of this law is the issue of biodiversity, taste, and health.

In several cities in France, Carrefour set up Black Supermarkets in supermarkets to sell illegal varieties, although they faced severe penalties. Black Supermarket generates more than 300 million media impressions, 69% of which are online media capable of signing consumers to sign petitions. This petition received as many as 85,000 signatures. The number of visitors increased by 15% and sentiment towards the Carrefour brand increased by 8%. Finally, the European Parliament changed policy and authorized the sale and cultivation of farmers8.

Tips for Using Creativity To Change Policies

Each of the means that have been used to change policy has drawbacks that can make it an ineffective endeavor. However, we have found that an effective effort to change policy can be a creative campaign.

Why can campaigns demanding change be more effective when creative? The first reason, creativity is very interesting and can attract the attention of many people, including people who do not understand the issue. Secondly, the emotions that are deep within a person are evoked so that they are more likely to take action. The third reason is that the campaign can spread out of the echo chamber (an environment where people have the same perspective) which increases the number of campaign supporters so that the campaign is more successful.

Some tips I can give if you want to use creativity to change policy are:

1. Use media that people use everyday
Media or tools for campaigns to change policies must be easily accessible to the wider community and used in everyday life. In the case of The Tampon Book, the media used are books and in the case of the Black Supermarket the media used are supermarkets and groceries.

2. Create a sense of urgency from the perspective of citizens, not activists
What will happen if people don’t support the issue you’re campaigning for? The issue you are campaigning for must be creatively packaged so that it attracts people’s attention and stirs emotion. In The Tampon Book, the campaign highlights that if you follow the tampon tax, menstruation is considered a luxury and every woman has to pay dearly for it. Meanwhile, at Black Supermarkets, the message conveyed is that consumers are losing the option to get a variety of and healthy foods.

3. Find your idea through the creative process
While you may be working with a creative agency, you need to come up with your own ideas because you are the one who best understands the issue or policy you want to change. One of the popular creative processes is the technique for producing ideas by James Webb Young who is almost 100 years old. The creative process consists of five stages, namely9:
  • Immersion: the process of delving into all the details of the brand, competition and audience.
  • Digestion: determine what is most important.
  • Incubation: shut up and let your subconscious take control.
  • Illumination: let ideas flow freely.
  • Reality testing: ideas are run by someone else to find the best performing ideas.
1. Retrieved from

2. Rossa, V, & Efendi, D. A. (2021, Januari 18). Pemerintah Nyerah! 12 Petisi Online Berbuah Kemenangan di 2020 – Bagian 1. Retrieved from

3. Paramita, R. P. (2015, Juli 30). Bedanya Petisi di Indonesia dengan Amerika Serikat. Retrieved from

4. Goldman, J. (2015, Juli 28). How We’re Changing the Way We Respond to Petitions. The White House President Barack Obama. Retrieved from

5. Aritao, J. (2020, March 17). What Drives True Creativity? Retrieved from

6. Goodkind, G. (2019, June 27). Cannes Lion Grand Prix Winner: How The Tampon Book Outsmarted The Law to Make Change. Creative Moment. Retrieved from

7. Solonick, M. (2020, February). Case Study: The Tampon Book. Corkscrewminds. Retrieved from

8. Natividad, A. (2018, May 24). One French Supermarket Chain Uses Black Markets to Highlight the Absurdity of EU Food Regulations. Adweek. Retrieved from

9. 9 Steps to Developing a Stellar Advertising Campaign. Stukent. Retrieved from
Lavinia Rahmawati
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