Commentary

2014: The Year Of The Nonprofit In Branded Video

Every year, we see new creative trends emerge. Over the past couple of years, we saw stunts and pranks move to the forefront. But in 2014, viewers have made it clear that they want as many tear-jerking videos as brands can produce.

We saw the beginning of this trend last year when Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” became the most viral branded video of the year with its powerful message. Brands took note of the buzzworthiness of this type of emotional content in 2013 and have inundated us with it in 2014, and with great success.

Videos like Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” and P&G “Pick Them Back Up” were the biggest hits of the Super Bowl and Olympics, respectively; the former garnered more than 54 million views, and the latter more than 24 million views.

While any brand can create this type of video, the demand for emotional storytelling -- be in heartwarming or heartbreaking -- is especially opportune for nonprofits. There is something innately emotional and engaging about a nonprofit, which usually works to remedy a wrong.

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The most viral nonprofit video ever made was “Invisible Children’s Kony” 2012. Garnering more than 228 million views since its release in March 2012, Kony 2012 showed how video could shine a floodlight on a social cause. Other nonprofits have found success in branded video since, but most wait until the end of the year to release videos and capitalize on the holiday spirit.

What’s interesting in 2014 is that we’ve seen an influx of successful branded videos from charities very early in the year. In the first three months of the year, the industry has seen five campaigns surpass 10 million views. That’s the same number of nonprofit campaigns that surpassed 10 million views in the whole of 2013.

Nonprofits are not only capitalizing on the growing demand for emotional content, but also showing their storytelling savviness in the process.  Here are some making waves in 2014:

“Most Shocking Second a Day”: This Save the Children video depicts a scenario where a British girl watches as her life in the U.K. turns upside down in war-time carnage. In five days, the campaign became the most-watched PSA of 2014. Today it has more than 29.7 million views and nearly 900,000 social shares.

“Will it Crush?”: Omaze offers one fan the opportunity to drive Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal tank and crush any object if you donate to his charity of choice, After-School All-Stars. The campaign -- the second celebrity campaign from Omaze in as many months -- has generated 18.9 million views.

“Dear Future Mom”: CoorDown, the National Association for Down syndrome in Europe, offers support to a mother wondering what her son’s life will be like. The heartwarming video features responses from individuals living with Down syndrome throughout Europe. It’s generated nearly 5 million views.

“Would You Give Your Jacket to Johannes”: SOS Children’s Village International placed a boy at a bus stop in the middle of winter without a jacket. Their video shows adults removing their own winter wear to warm the child, before asking viewers to donate a jacket to children in Syria. It has garnered 16.8 million views.

“Luge”: The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion confronted the controversy of Russia’s anti-LGBT politics with this video that features two lugers and the tag line “The games have always been a little gay. Let’s fight to keep them that way.” It’s accumulated 8.4 million views.

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