Save the Children – Still the Most Shocking Day Video

So, I did have insider information that a sequel was on it’s way, but I knew little more than that. Here it is, the follow up to Save’s The Most Shocking Day. I wasn’t quite sure what to think when I heard there was going to be a “sequel” and didn’t know what to expect. The new video is indeed quite shocking, sobering, depressing. It made me incredibly sad watching it – all the time thinking of my own two children who are a similar age to the child portrayed in the video.

A couple of questions spring to mind: Will it get as many views as the first video and Will it encourage people to donate? I’ll let you decide….

A new genre of NGO videos?

Redd Barna (Save the Children Norway) released a video earlier this week as part of their #BirthofInvoice campaign. The video spoof shows the pilot of a new “birth meter” which is being installed in Harstad Hospital in Norway. The film includes a project manager for a project called “Cost control in maternity care.” which has been designed to streamline the work of midwives. In real life also, you can seek help for project management. The meter efficiently records all the requirements of a birth such as nitrous oxide, epidurals and consent. At the end of the process the baby is then tagged with a barcode so that the costs can be quickly calculated and a bill provided for the new parents.

The midwives in the video did not know anything about the film, whereas the instructor and the woman in the bed are actors. Lisa Brodshaug, Campaign Advisor at Save the Children said “We contacted the management of the hospital to ask permission to film the spoof. The midwives were told to attend a training for a new tool to help them in their daily work. Their reactions appear when they realize this birth meter is designed to print an invoice in the end, for the mother to carry with the baby out of the hospital. We chose to use a hidden camera to capture their natural reactions when exposed to the birth meter. We assumed that the midwives’ instinct would be activated, and we were right. They told us afterwards that they were furious during the session and most of all wanted to slap the instructor across his face. Interesting then, to see how controlled they are when communicating their objections.”

The video which films the reaction of real midwives in Norway reminds me slightly of the annoying but very popular prank show, Beadles About. There have been quite a few videos produced in the last few years which either use spoofs e.g. Africa for Norway or a strategy of “it’s not happening here yet…..”, which also reminds me of the very clever outdoor advertising campaign from Amnesty International a few years ago.


It seems as this type of communication style is very effective. The Save the Children UK video Most Shocking Second a Day now has over 45 million views. At the end of the #BirthofInvoice video there is the opportunity to use an online tool to see what the cost would have been for the birth of your existing children. This ‘birth invoice can be shared via social media. Lisa Brodshaug commented “Numbers show that we hit the nail with our suggested action for showing support; to make people share their own birth invoice with an estimated amount according to their number of births. This has generated even more traffic on our sites and tells us that people need to relate and personalize the information in order to take action.”

The video has been produced to alert people to the kind of processes that go on in many countries. In Norway, like the UK, health care from qualified professionals during pregnancy and birth is free, whereas in other countries women have to pay for vital health care. Those who cannot afford to pay often give birth at home without professional help and risk both their own lives and the lives of their baby. As part of this campaign, Save the Children aim to increase awareness of this problem and advocate for free healthcare across the world as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

It seems the campaign is working!

Save The Children Video Viewed 2 million times in one day

Another interesting video has been made to help the Syria appeal. It starts with a young girl blowing out candles (I think I counted 9) on her birthday, this is followed by clips of her doing normal every day things that a 9 year old in the UK might do: eating cake, trying on her mums lipstick, playing her recorder, playing in the park etc. Suddenly brief excerpts of the news are shown on TV and the front of newspapers and then we hear the sound of a helicopter and realise that civil war has hit Britain.

It’s a powerful and haunting video which get’s darker and darker, depicting the potentail scenes of conflict in the UK.

In a similar vein to the Norway SOS video, the film constructs the life of a distant other through the lens of someone more familiar to the UK audience. Again, by using a child that we recognise we feel more personal connection and sympathy and thus views of the film have rocketed.

The video has been produced by Save the Children to highlight the Syria crisis. It was launched in the run-up to the three-year anniversary of the conflict where 10,000 children have lost their lives and 2.3   million people have become refugees. Jack Lundie, Director of Brand and Communications at Save The Children says

“This powerful and cleverly-crafted short film engages the viewer with the idea of what daily life might be like for children here at home, if a conflict broke out in the UK.  It’s easy to forget that Syria was a middle income country, where children enjoyed the benefits of education, healthcare and the other basic rights our children take for granted – not to mention Facebook accounts, video games and youth culture. We hope the video will resonate with the public, particularly those who don’t know much about the situation in Syria, and offer a new perspective on the devastating impact this conflict is having on innocent Syrian children.  The message to the public is “just because it’s not happening here, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

International Development Videos 2014

I hereby start a list of good, bad, interesting, innovative and indifferent International Development videos for 2014. I’ll let you decide which category they fall in. Let me know your thoughts.

SOS Norway – Would you give your jacket to Johannes?

Omaze – Ben Affleck and Matt Damon

British Red Cross – Welcome to Disaster Island

Oxfam – Lift Lives for Good

UNICEF India – Take the Poo to the Loo

Bill Gates Viral Video 

SolarAid – Bring Me Sunshine

Survival International – There You Go

Vlog4Good – The Internet isn’t just for cats

Save the Children – How to help Gaza’s Children

Amnesty International – No Foul Play Brazil

Greenpeace – Lego is NOT Awesome

Global Commission on Drug Policy – The War on Drugo


UN Women

Action contre la Faim – One Bullet

Plan International – 12 Year Old Wedding

Save The Children – Superhereos

39 Cents – Saturday Night Live

Doctors Without Borders – The Boy Who Tricked Ebola

Oxfam – Raising Voices

UNICEF – A Vaccine for Violence

Oxfam – GoPro

UNICEF – ODESZA’s Sun Models

Save The Children – Harry Enfield Spoof

UNICEF – The Video Game That Caused a Walkout

Clinic Craft – A Minecraft Epic for Save the Children

Sponsor A Wealthy Child – Zachary’s Story




Save the Children UK and Social Media

Last week I visited Save the Children UK headquarters in London’s Smithfields to find out more about their use of social media. I met with Rosie Childs, who is responsible for social media in the news and PR teams for a quick chat about some of the strategies they employ. Save the Children recently topped the 2013 Social Media Charity Index. We discussed a lot in an hour, but for this blog post I will focus on blogger outreach and abusive comments on Facebook.

Save the Children are very effective at blogger outreach. One of Rosie’s roles is to seek and nurture relationships with bloggers and vloggers due to their powerful voices and engaged audiences. Just yesterday she returned from a Syrian refugee camp in Iraq where she escorted @Lexcanroar, a young vlogger on a visit. The cost of organising a visit for a blogger is not very expensive but the potential social media reach and influence is massive.

In June this year two of YouTube’s biggest names Charlie McDonnell and his mum Lindsay traveled to Tanzania to see what can be done to end global hunger. Charlie and Lindsay have a combined following on Twitter of 645,000 and nearly 3 million YouTube subscribers. Vloggers have become the new celebrity ambassadors and they are very effective at reaching young audiences. They are possibly more influential than many celebrities as they are often deemed as more honest and reliable.

Before our meeting I looked at Save The Children’s latest Facebook posts. I was appalled to see racist comments on some of the their Typhoon Haiyan appeals. Here is an example


About two or three times a year my wife and I have mini debates about the prevalence of racism in Britain. We are both academics, so we live in an educated bubble for most of the time. I’m probably more aware of prejudice as I work closely with international students and get to hear their stories, but I was actually quite shocked at some of the comments above. I asked Rosie about the moderation of their social media channels. Like most large organisation they have policies that do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability or political beliefs. However, in my opinion a couple of the posts above do discriminate. I’ve managed large social media channels in the past and it is difficult to know when to intervene in the community. Rosie said that all the channels are carefully monitored by a number of staff. Most often abusive comments are dealt with by the other Facebook community members, but sometimes posts need to be factually corrected or removed. It’s such a shame there is still a high level of ignorance when it comes to aid and fundraising and indeed misguided narratives about the global south.

It reminded me of a campaign by Oxfam which I read about the other day in a book by Dogra (2012) Representations of Global Poverty. The campaign ran in July 2005 in an attempt to reduce generalised misconceptions. In each advert the space was divided vertically with the myth on the left and the counter-argument on the right e.g. Africa Myth #1 ‘I’m not giving my money to corrupt leaders is Africa’ – Neither are we.” and “Africa Myth #3 ‘African families have too many children’ – African families have to bury too many children.” Maybe other development organisations need to invest some high profile communications at busting myths?

Save The Children’s social media presence is impressive, hence the award. For example there were 15 tweets from their Twitter channel on Thursday 14th November. They ranged in type: fundraising, information, education and promotion as well as retweeting other content. I particularly like the tweet below which shows aid being delivered in the Philippines.


I’m often critical of organisations’ YouTube channels and Save the Children’s is no exception. They have some great videos, my particular favourite being the No Child Born to Die video from 2 years ago, but their channel seems to be a repository of videos with no structure or seeding strategy. Why oh why do organisations spend all this money on video production but fail to seed them properly? There is so much you can do with playlists and titles OR incorporate the use of Vimeo for certain videos.

A goal I’ve set myself for next year is to experience the filming of a celebrity advocacy video in the field. Maybe Save The Children will invite me to observe one and in return I’ll establish a seeding strategy for them.