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?’.

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.

4 thoughts on “When Can An Advocacy Video Blow-Up Children?

  1. I think the MTV Staying Alive videos can be pretty clever and good at cutting through assumptions/stereotypes to do with sexual health and HIV/AIDS. One called 'The Cover' is particularly good in its simplicity. It goes further than 'what if it was you', to 'this actually really could be you'. Not really as explicitly shocking as the landmine one, but shocking through using a sense of calm instead, and for a different purpose.

    1. Thanks for sharing this Katie – love its simplicity; I think it also works well because of its use of suspense, even up to/after we realize the woman is dead, and until we see the end titlecard.

  2. I especially like these videoes. I feel that making the observer put themselves in the shoes of another is a very effective strategy. Especially here in the US we take for granted the privelage that we have. We would never tolerate these conditions here. Obvously it is impoverished contries that suffer the most. I feel viualizing the situation in a middle class perspective is very clever. My guess is that if the video were filmed from the perspective of impoverished, undeveloped countries, you would probably not have the same level of empathy, simply bcause people could not relate.

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