What do these 5 award winning charity videos have in common

We know that people make decisions for emotional reasons (often post-rationalising if the context demands) so from a marketing perspective, charities seem to have everything stacked in their favour; tonnes of real human stories packed with emotion, and the ability to make someone feel great by demonstrating their generosity. But if that’s true, why do so many struggle convince their audience to even take notice, let alone action.

The answer is simply because the charity market is SO busy and people have become remarkably good at blocking it all out. So in order to make an impact, charities can’t just do a good job of their content, they have to do a breathtakingly good job.

Every now and again a charity succeeds in meeting these extreme standards. This blog post will explore how, but first let’s see some examples…

1. Most Shocking Second A Day – Save the children


2. Dear Future Mom – World Down Syndrome Day


3. The Answer Is Plain – Cancer Research UK


4. Sandy Hook promise


5. A moment of dyslexia – British Dyslexia Foundation

So what do these 5 videos have in common:

  1. They focus on one thing. As Steve Jobs once wrote, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. A huge challenge in any creative process is reducing it to one simple concept that can be explained in a couple of sentences. Each one of these is beautifully simple no matter how complex the subject.
  2. They highlight a conflict. In each of these videos, there is some kind of contradiction, inconsistency or hypocrisy that’s being highlighted (the way we view those in war zones as somehow different from the people on our street, or the tension between the innocence of children playing and the malevolence of a pack of cigarettes, or the fear of having a child with Down Syndrome and the joy that child ultimately brings). It’s within this jarring juxtaposition that the key message cuts through.
  3. They emphasise the shit. Our aversion to bad stuff is a more powerful motivator than our attraction to good stuff, so while heart warming stories of how charities are making a positive difference can be lovely, they do little to inspire action. By focusing instead on something harrowing or uncomfortable, these videos compel the viewer to actually do something.
  4. They are a little bit surprising. There is SO much content out there in the third sector. Simply stating the facts or showing another malnourished child does not (sadly) carry much meaning. We have to do something that little bit different.
  5. They have a clear ask. Brand awareness would be fine if everyone was out there thinking “Ooh, what charity should I donate to today?” But they’re definitely not thinking that. So if we don’t convince the viewer to do something right now in this tiny moment that we have their attention, we can consider the opportunity lost. Brand equity does not educate children nor fill hungry stomachs.

Until next time,



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