With the countdown to the festive season well under way I thought I would share a few Christmas campaign videos I have seen recently. It’s ludicrous how much money is spent at Christmas time and I think this has been epitomised by the latest Disneyfied, Lily Allen singing John Lewis Advert that cost £7 million. Sure, it’s a beautifully made animation, but spending £7 million to encourage us to buy more STUFF (see the Canadian Red Cross video below) when people in the Philippines are desperate for aid.
Please send me any more examples of Christmas Charity Videos that you think are worth adding. Ho ho ho.
Save the Children UK>
Rudolph vs Donkey
Save the Children – Christmas Sessions
Canadian Red Cross – The Spirit of the Holidays
H&M Sweden Christmas Charity Campaign
Save the Children – Jack Topping
WaterAid> – The Les Mis Ensemble
Nice and Serious – Kids Reinvent Santa’s Sleigh
Nice and Serious – 12 Days of Sustainable Xmas Song
Today I read a journal article Development Made Sexy: how it happened and what it meanswritten by Cameron and Haanstra (2008). The article argues that the way in which NGOs represent the global South and development are hugely important in the construction of social power relations between people in the global North and the global South.
The ‘pornography of poverty’ approach has dominated fundraising communications for decades, and to some extent still does. I have interviewed several large NGOs in the UK and many confess to wanting to change their narratives, but are nervous due to clear management data that proves ‘poverty porn’ still works when it comes to donations. The article critiques a seemingly new form of ‘sexy development communication’ with some obvious negative impacts such as objectification, exploitation and oversimplification.
What are the downfalls of both these strategies in raising public awareness of development issues in the North? The paper doesn’t really offer a solution, but suggests in it’s conclusion that an alternative approach could be humour, which has been recently used in successful campaigns such as Greenpeace’s Mr Splashy Pants.
I’ve recently written a lot about video and today took part in the shortlisting panel for a new video award from Africa for Norway. Inspired by the article and shortlisting process I decided to share (in no particular order) some of my favourite ‘funny development videos’ .
I blogged about my Top 10 International Development videos a few months back. At the time I wondered whether to do my Top 20 or Top 10. There are too many videos not to give you the full list……
1. WaterAid – 1 in 3 women
This chilling video is so effective and talks directly to a western audience. Many people have no idea that millions and millions of people do not have access to sanitary facilities. This video makes that point very clearly. I’m surprised it has only around 5,000 views.
2. Invisible Children – Kony 2012
I’m not a huge fan of this video, but no one can doubt it’s phenomenal success as a “vital video”. It’s been debated to death so I won’t comment here – see my earlier blog if you are interested in a critique. If for some reason you haven’t watched it – please be patient and watch all 29 minutes. Apart from the oversimplification of the storytelling, my other big criticism is that they have turned off the comments.
3. Mismanagers Folliers – Development Boy
Very professionally executed and so catchy. A great parody. I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head for the last 2 weeks, which is why it gets such a high position in my “chart”.
4. Oxfam – Pregnant women dancing in London
A staged flashmob to highlight the dangers of pregnancy and birth around the world. I also love breakdancing. Not personally, just as a spectator. Are they pregnant or aren’t they?
Arriving in Delhi to see (and smell) heaps of rubbish lining the streets was a bit of a shock to the system when I first arrived to volunteer in January of this year. The waste management problem in Delhi is so serious that the Hindustan Times dramatically stated that “Delhi may drown in its own waste”. Although this is probably not strictly true, as much as 85% of Delhi’s residents do not have a formal waste disposal system and Delhi’s colossal landfill sites are filling up fast.
I volunteered with Swechha; a non-governmental organisation focused on education and environmental issues in Delhi. I took part in clean-ups along with a variety of other projects – however, when I agreed to work to improve waste management, social media marketing was one of the last things I thought I would be doing.
Nevertheless, after my first couple of weeks of working with Swechha, I was asked to help market Green the Gap, an upcycling social enterprise which helps fund Swechha. I soon found myself tweeting on their behalf and becoming addicted to Facebook statistics.
In order to give a bit of background, I should explain the Swechha/Green the Gap relationship. Swechha is a Delhi-based NGO which deals in education and environmental issues, including waste management. The aforementioned waste issue in Delhi is utilised by some of Delhi’s poorest – rag-pickers who survive by picking through landfill sites and selling anything of value which they find. It is an informal (as well as ingenious) form of recycling.
This is where Green the Gap comes in – Green the Gap are an upcycling company who buy waste products from rag-pickers and employ tailors from a local slum community to upcycle these products into useful and fashionable items which can then be sold at a profit. The revenue made by Green the Gap then helps to fund the work of Swechha – It’s a beautiful cycle.
I started working with Swechha at the exact time that Green the Gap was launching into e-commerce and was asked to support this launch by using social media to increase traffic to the site. My only qualifying skills were the fact that I kept a rather light-hearted blog which had already attracted some attention and Green the Gap wanted to use humour to spread their eco-message.
Having absolutely no experience of social media marketing, I initially found this task to be a bit of a challenge. My main tactics became seeking the attention of pre-existing environmental charities that may have wanted to support Green the Gap and trying to highlight the uniqueness of their products. One thing I learned was that in social media – subtlety is not your friend. I used lots of pictures and sophisticated captions like “Holy Cr*p – products made out of elephant poo” to advertise one particular line of paper products created from elephant dung and Green the Gap’s weekly total reach on Facebook increased by 22,320.49% (to be precise).
Trying to maintain the balance of maintaining a level of humour whilst not seeming flippant to the waste management issue in Delhi was a constant battle but I learned that important issues can be tackled in a fun and approachable way. Green the Gap were giving people an easy way to contribute to their society without preaching and shoving statistics down their throats – and this was something I could really get behind. I was to be able to use social media to reach a wide audience and promote a really great cause and I think that social media can be a fantastic tool in developing countries. My efforts were probably a bit amateur, but that was part of the beauty of it – social media is for everyman (or woman) and it is these people who can really make a difference to the world. I strongly feel that other NGOs should jump on the social media bandwagon and start getting their names out there. If I can master it, then so can they!
Olivia Burke is a returned volunteer from the ICS programme. She spent three months in Delhi where one of her roles was using social media to market an upcycling social enterprise as it launched into e-commerce.