Africa’s largest ever Lip Dub Social Media Campaign

I absolutely love the Jessie J Lip Dub from Microbanker involving over 500 women in Uganda, so I contacted them to ask for some more details about the campaign. Here is a detailed insight into the success about the campaign from an interview with Duko Hopman, Director of SYPO.

1. What made you decide to use a Lip Dub as a fundraising idea?
We were looking for a way to show the strength, not the weakness, of the women involved in the project. A fun and positive message instead of images of suffering children. A Lip Dub video seemed like the perfect way to be able to show a lot of the borrowers’ businesses in a fun way, and appeal to a wide audience through social media (given the recent popularity of Lip Dubs). Read this article explains what it is, and why it is important to do this.

2. Is it really the largest Lip Dub in Africa?
We had a long look around Youtube and Google to get some inspiration from other Lip Dubs and to confirm that this would be the largest, and it certainly seems to be! We couldn’t find any that came even close… Although there were some pretty good ones out there.

3. Did you ask the women in Uganda whether you thought it would be a good idea? Did they come up with any ideas?
The ‘loan officers’ in the project – the people that work in the organization to actually give out and collect microcredits – had converations about this idea with many of the borrowers. It was an instant success – hundreds of borrowers immediately signed up to participate. Mostly because it seemed like a good party (which it turned out to be), but also because the idea of showing sponsors what their villages are like, in a high quality video, really appealed to them.

We always try to be the opposite of patronizing with our borrowers – they pay for a product, and they know they’re paying for it. They are very vocal about raising improvement ideas or demanding changes in, for instance, logistics of the repayments. We treat them as clients, and they treat us as a company from which they buy a product. It is however a product that they value very much, and that they certainly do not want to lose. This means that most of them really appreciated the opportunity to contribute to this fundraising effort, which would guarantee continuity of the project.

4. Tell me about the challenges of filming 500 people? Why did you choose to film so many? What were the language barriers? How long did it take?
It was as much fun as it was stressful. We had a camera team of three (director, camera woman and choreographer), and eight local and Dutch volunteers. Still it was chaos for most of the week. Cows running through the set, pigs that wouldn’t stop screaming, children running the wrong way and of course some very challenging lyrics. We had four recording days, which could last as long as eight hours in the burning heat. We asked a couple of ‘chapati’ (local pancakes) and other food stands to set up shop in the middle of the set so that everybody could constantly get food and drinks. Towards the end of the afternoon many of the women started complaining that they had to go home to make dinner for their families. But by the time we were done everyone would be so excited that no one ended up leaving and we would all stick around and dance – why waste the perfectly good sounds systems we had installed? I think the excellent director, a Dutch guy called Ivan Mikulic, aged at least ten years in those four days, but it was well worth it.

5. How many people were involved in the filming/production side? How much did it cost to produce?
The director of the video, Ivan Mikulic, did some short videos about SYPO’s projects several years ago for Dutch television. He got really enthusiastic about our way of working, and agreed to gather a team (camera woman Berta Banacloche and choreographer Mexim Janzen), and they all charged us basically for expenses only. Editing of the video was done in the spare hours of a Dutch studio, and by a studio in Kampala. Other costs were for two Ugandan artists that were involved in the video, other local help, food and drinks for all the women, accommodation for the team, and of course all the attributes in the video. All in all it came down to 8,000 euros.

6. How long did the post production take?
One of the great things about a Lip Dub is that it doesn’t take much editing, since it’s basically one shot. Some color corrections and digital enhancements was all it took. Perhaps 4 days? We uploaded it only after we launched the website, which is why the video was recorded in June but only uploaded in September.

7. You’ve had over 100,000 views. Is this more than you expected? How did you seed the video? I see that the video was shown by Al Jazeera / BBC East Africa / HuffPost. Did any other media organisations write about the video?
The funny things is that in the end you have very little control over the spreading of a video like this. Of course we actively spread the word, but in the end most of it was organic. Some guy (we still haven’t figured out who) downloaded the video from Youtube, uploaded it on his Facebook, and ended up getting 90,000 shares. We sent out press releases, but I think none of them got picked up. Instead we got hundreds of great comments from across the globe and from corners we never expected it to come from, including great requests such as your own. Al Jazeera/BBC/HuffPost were some of the big names, but articles on and several large Dutch websites certainly helped. We were hoping for 100,000 views, but never expected it to go this fast. And counting the Facebook shares, we’re well over.

8. Do you consider the video a success? If so, how? Have you received many more donations? What others ways can you measure ROI?
It’s a tremendous success. The video was primarily made to promote our new fundraising website – a website that was made to actively involve sponsors in microcredit. On the site you can select and donate for business plans, track progress of ‘your client’ over time and recycle the repayments to new business plans. You can even ask questions to your client. We received 24,000 Euros in donations through this site already, and we’re hoping for many more. This will be an important driver of our growth to 3,000 borrowers next year. But apart from donations, the video had other great results, especially in setting up new partnerships. Organizations contacted us to work together – from requests for advice by other microfinance institutions to for instance interesting new collaborations, such as with ‘Text to change’, an NGO that uses SMS services to inform pregnant women about maternal health or farmers about commodity prices. We hope to start working with them in the near future to provide these services to our borrowers.

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