My colleague Chris’ post on successful advocacy videos and the failures highlights the recent 10:10 UK campaign video, which (“spoiler alert”) begins with a scene in which children are blown up when they don’t commit to take measures to reduce their carbon footprint. (You can read Chris’ follow-up post to learn more about the reaction to this)
Contemplating what I think of as a failure in terms of using shocking imagery to create engagement, it reminded me of the following advocacy video that uses a similar ‘blowing up the children’ strategy but grounds it much more effectively in the reality of the issue and the actual advocacy objectives that the campaign is pursuing.
I first came across this video on the Osocio site when I was doing research on what I think of as ‘what if it was you’ videos. These are videos that try to make the audience empathize by transposing the viewers into a situation – what if it was you without a home, what if it was you without access to healthcare, what if it was you who were being tortured…
As the tagline for this video goes, ‘If there were landmines here, would you stand for them anywhere?’.
So does this video work? I think it works because the shock factor is directly related to the subject matter (as Chris notes in his post, you certainly can shock people – for example with simulated sex in bunny suits, but if that’s not the advocacy subject matter, people may remember the bunny suits but not the actual issue). Although it’s unexpected that mines would be on a soccer pitch the reality of land mines in public spaces across post-conflict contexts is that they are indiscriminate, and many of them are in areas where children live and play. Statistics from the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor for the past decade found that 32% of landmine and cluster munition victims were children, and as this story from Burma documented by Physicians for Human Rights show, landmines have lifelong impacts on children even if they survive.
Its interesting to note what this video does and doesn’t show. Unlike the 10:10 UK video it doesn’t aim for gross-out humor (intended as Pythonesque humor in that case I assume), nor does it try to be excessively graphic. Most of what we see is the reactions of spectators in the aftermath of the explosion. I’m guessing the audience for this video is less the school-age children and more their parents so the viewer is meant to imagine themselves in the place of these soccer-moms/soccer-dads, or the shocked, injured girl stumbling towards the sidelines.
Clocking-in at a minute’s length, the video also has a clear, concise action link as it ends. It directs the viewer to the stoplandmines.org website – which essentially acts as a clearing house for linkages to organizations taking different approaches to mine clearance.
Bringing home dirty water
Another of my favorite ‘what if it was you’ videos comes from World Vision UK (via Osocio again), and highlights that 1.1 billion people worldwide (as of the video’s release in mid-2008) do not have access to clean water. Again there’s a tight linkage between the gross-out shocking moment and the actual reality (of lack of access to clean water) to which we’re being moved with this ‘what if it was you’ video:
So what are your own favorite examples of ‘what if it was you’ videos and also videos that use strong imagery (either graphic or gross-out)? When do they work and when do they fail? What makes them work? Please add your comments and own examples below or tweet them to me at @samgregory, and I’ll incorporate them into future posts.