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What we can learn from the simplest video campaigns

01/07/2010

In last week’s blog I suggested that a good way to get your fundraising and campaigning messages across with greater impact was to let others tell your stories for you.  But when there are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds how on earth can you ensure your video stories stand out?

I’ve seen a great video this week from Sussex Safer Roads which aims to encourage more people to wear seatbelts (thanks to the Fundraising Detective for pointing it out in another very interesting post).  The video was launched on YouTube in January and has subsequently attracted over nine and a half million views!  So, the story must be compelling to achieve this kind of cut-though and viral support.

Now, seatbelt campaigns are nothing new and there are hundreds of films on YouTube extolling their virtues.  However, none have generated anywhere near the same level of interest.  I believe there are several key factors which make the Sussex Safer roads video stand out which we can all learn from:

  • As per last week’s blog, it lets a family (albeit an apparently notional one) tell the story, rather than have some expert or spokesperson talking ‘at’ the viewer.
  • Whilst it’s clearly contrived and stylised, the story is very much set in the real-world.  We are transported to a family’s living room where real-world things happen and ‘meet’ the characters seemingly playing some sort of pretend driving game.  Ok, the actors are all a bit ‘beautiful’ but this is splitting hairs and I think the context of the living room and the well edited sequences simply strengthen the realism.
  • They tell this story in an unfamiliar, but comfortable, and engaging context.  Other road safety campaigns are usually about casualties, crashes, roads and ambulances and seek to employ greater ‘shock’ tactics.  They aren’t about families doing positive things.
  • Consequently, this video turns the tradition of public safety messages on its head and will most likely achieve greater cut-through because it is trying to do something different.  The message comes from a family doing something together in their living room.  It shows them being together and caring for each other.  No-one dies and the outcome is, I think more positive and less ‘preachy’ as a result.
  • The imagery and sub-text are, in my opinion, very successful.  The mother and daughter characters wrapping their arms around the chap not only to protect their family unit but doing so with their arms in the shape of a seatbelt is very clever.  This one image links the family, protection, real-world context and seatbelts inextricably together without once mentioning accident statistics or showing guts and gore.
  • Overall, it is a simple idea and would have been produced on a relatively low budget, proving again that original, well-targeted content increasingly wins over big-budget effects and complicated media choices.

What do you think?  Obviously there are other factors which contributed to the campaign’s success but I would love to hear your thoughts and any other examples you have of messages achieving real-world standout.

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