Ari’s Auftrag

A narrative campaign against conspiracy narratives.

Background of the project

Conspiracy narratives of all kinds are booming and are widely disseminated, especially through digital media and social media sites. This has been exacerbated by the Corona pandemic and, due to young people’s constant and widespread use of media, also affects teenagers and young adults. The resulting cracks and tensions within society are palpable to everyone. In order to counter conspiracy narratives and conspiracy beliefs, however, it is often not enough to engage in fact- and argument-based communication; instead, approaches are needed that address and convince target groups on an emotional level.

On behalf of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), the modus|zad team is realizing a YouTube campaign that demonstrates (digital) dissemination mechanisms of conspiracy narratives in a creative, entertaining and emotionally-involving way and offers options for action. To be as appealing as possible to the target audience of teens and young adults between the ages of 10 and 17, the videos draw on well-known anime-style comic book hero stories for both content and style. In four short, engaging and fun animated videos, the fictional story of alien Ari, who must protect his planet from the spread of a dangerous conspiracy narrative, is told. By following Ari’s experiences with the far-reaching effects of the spread of digital conspiracy narratives on his planet, young viewers critical thinking skills are strengthened in relation to the spread of such content.

The video series “Ari’s Auftrag” and its accompanying materials empower children and young people to form opinions, promote media and information literacy, tolerance of ambiguity, and critical thinking, thus providing them with the opportunity to understand social events and learn to deal effectively with conspiracy ideologies in everyday life.

Focus and Benefits

Ari’s mission focuses on high quality storytelling and production to meet young viewers where they are. The project

  • Reaches young people on an emotional rather than argumentative level with entertaining content and a hero story reminiscent of popular anime.
  • Provides a playful approach to a complex, controversial, and emotionally charged set of issues.
  • Uses a high degree of abstraction to avoid individual viewers reacting negatively to the videos because of a possible tendency towards conspiracy narratives.
  • Draws on Ari’s experiences to illustrate the divisive effects of conspiracy narratives and possible courses of action to sensitize youth to the consequences of such narratives and to encourage them to take the initiative against conspiracy narratives themselves.
  • Is based on the latest research findings on the impact of fictional stories on real opinions and thus contributes to the theoretical and practical development of narrative campaigns in general.

The project “Ari’s Auftrag” is funded by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb).