By Chris Rogy. Chris is the Tools and Tactics intern at WITNESS. He is a Master’s student focusing on Social Media and Social Change in the The New School’s Media Studies and Film Department. Current Projects include a new media documentary called Re-Fusing Refuge about the deportation of Cambodian American Refugees and a participatory research thesis that develops radio drama practices with community leaders in rural Cambodia.

We at witness are always excited to come across advocacy videos that educate and inspire audiences on human rights issues. When Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff was released in December of 2007, probably no one imagined a 20-minute video would make front page of The New York Times and receive over 15 million views— but it did.

Yesterday, the Story of Stuff Project released a new 8-minute video that builds on the “dinosaur economy” concept, portrayed in Story of Stuff, by challenging Americans who claim, “We’re broke.” Too broke to fix the economy. Thereby, preventing support and investment in a more sustainable and fair economy.

If there were one hash tag that cuts to the core of Annie Leonard’s thesis in the Story of Broke, it’s #subsidies. In her analysis, Annie finds a brighter future with great schools, a healthy environment, clean energy and good jobs completely hijacked by – what she coins – spending, tax, risk transfer and freebie subsidies. But what if the people with the real power, the taxpayers, begin to protect their tax money? Asks Annie. Then a brighter and better future is possible. View below to find out how…


In addition, to content found within the video, you’ll notice a lot of content on the webpage that accompanies the video. This content calls users’ attention to more specific details that relates to information within the video. Imagine while viewing, it struck you that tax breaks to oil companies actually do create jobs, or so you previously thought. Click on the timelined-FAQ-section icon below the video that reveals why that might not be true.

To the right of the video exists three core buttons crucial to an advocacy campaign: Act, Learn, Share. These buttons help mobilize viewers into swift action by offering more in-depth information, ensuring users stay updated, involving them in offline events and enabling them to share information with friends and colleagues. These web options are critical to online campaigns and likely help contribute to the success and wide viewership of Story of Stuff Project videos.



Video Facts
Title: Story of Broke
Date Created/Posted: November 8th, 2011
Who Made It: The Story of Stuff Project / Free Range Studios
Length: 8:07
Location: USA
Human Rights Issue(s): Climate Change, Environment, Economic Security, Education, Extractive Industries and Healthcare Access
Mission Statements
  1. The Story of Stuff Project’s mission is to build a strong, diverse, decentralized, cross-sector movement to transform systems of production and consumption to serve ecological sustainability and social well-being.
  2. We enable our clients to communicate key messages and empower individuals to transform society through the innovative use of digital media, storytelling, graphic design and strategy. We amplify the impact of our work by inspiring others through our values-driven business practices.

Advocacy Objectives

Raise Awareness and Mobilize Community Action

Content and Style

The video combines narration and appearance by Annie Leonard with animation. Loaded with information accompanied by an annotated script with footnotes and sources via website.

International Screenings & Role of Network and Allies

Story of Stuff Project movies are shown in schools, backyards, theaters, film festivals, churches and community spaces all across the world; in every country and territory recognized by Google Analytics. They invite you to host a screening of any of their movies in your community and share your screening with the entire Story of Stuff Community on their website by filling out a form. There’s even a Google map showcasing the location of each screening. It’s truly global!

Outreach and Distribution

Here’s an example of Web 2.0 optimization! Still images of the video are available for download and can be used for outreach of the documentary and to raise awareness.

For a look at Story of Broke’s precursor, the Story of Stuff, watch below…

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