This Video Grabbed Me Hard — Here’s How Online Video Can Boost Your Nonprofit Marketing

I asked fellow bloggers to weigh in on best practices in nonprofit use of online video (the faintest outlines are just appearing as it’s a whole new world) for this week’s Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants.  Here’s my take, which I’ll introduce by sharing a Greenpeace video that had a huge impact on me and explaining why it works:

  • The imagery grabs me:
    • It’s so different from how we’re used to seeing children — we’ve comfortable and familiar with seeing children in bright colors, playing happily. This child narrator is almost post-apocalyptic; frightening but 150% compelling.
    • It’s stark, monochromatic and exceedingly simple. I think it’s yet another example of less is more.
  • His narrative is startling; angry, grave, serious, graphic. I feel that as an adult, I owe it to him to listen, and to act.
  • Blame is assigned to adults, like me. It makes me want to do better. The immediacy of being blamed makes me sit up and listen.
  • It’s short(1:43) but includes everything I need to know, including a call to action.
  • Surprise is the strategy of success here. Just as I find that surprising my 4-year-old (let’s say with a new strategy to get her to dress quickly for school) always works, we all respond to what’s different. Here’s a child demanding his rights, which he does deserve. Video offers an almost endless number of opportunities for surprise — in narrative, in background sound or music, in imagery.

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Nancy Schwartz on September 10, 2007 in Advocacy, Branding and Messages, Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, Video | 5 comments
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  • Your response is interesting–but hopeful. Personally, I was bored and pushed away by the ad. The only reason I watched the whole way through was because it was mentioned in another blog I read.
    Maybe it’s generational: you wrote, “I feel that as an adult, I owe it to him to listen, and to act.” Being closer to his age (I’m 26), I don’t really feel that obligation.
    Another blogger ( http://www.sierraclub.org/compass/2007/09/stupid-grups.asp ) likened his grey hoodie to the Unabomber’s, and now I can’t separate the two in my mind.

  • Kelly

    I found the video insulting, since the science is far from “settled” and information about how our planet works is discovered every day; I also found it frightening, in that our children actually believe what they are being fed and are happy to parrot it back. The hoodie is an annoying parallel to the Grim Reaper’s cloak ~ then again, Greenpeace has always gone for the cheap guilt-trip and gone easy on the facts.

  • Lisa

    I found the child obnoxious and irritating. He seems like another “punk kid” with no manners. I understand the point of being agressive to a certain degree. However, the bullying tactic seems like a poor choice when asking for someone’s support.

  • Steve

    Setting aside whether I agree with the message, I think the video was compelling. The entire tone of the video stayed consistent with their message. The kid could have been a little less angry (major turnoff). I think people want to give to rational causes not a chip on someones shoulder.

  • Chris

    Agreed with another responder’s comments above– the tone if this video is just a bit too over the top for the sake of being over the top, in typical Greenpeace fashion. He states “the scientific community” (singular) released a report, as if there is one such community with one common view, and he speaks of a future worse than we can even imagine. It wreaks of sensationalism. We are far from understanding the full picture of our world’s climate, but then Greenpeace isn’t always about scientific facts.
    But on the subject of the blog, I understand your point about the impact of stark video. While a bit darker in tone, the video is similar to the AARP “Divided We Fail” videos, where children speak directly to the audience with very mature tone and dialog. The danger you face is the risk of appearing (as mentioned in another reply) that the child is puppeting the comments of an adult with an agenda.

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