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January 22, 2013

Non-profits who really understand humour when creating viral video campaigns

Humour can be a powerful tool when talking about tricky subjects, especially when trying to get people to listen to a cause and maybe part with their money.

These non-profits can teach others a thing or two about creating successful viral video campaigns. The use of humour is one of the top ways to engage with an intended audience, and if truly funny it’s more likely to be shared between friends, family and colleagues via email or social media.

Radi-Aid: Africa for Norway Official Christmas Video

“People don’t ignore starving people, so why should we ignore cold people?” So says Breezy V, music rapper leading a team of Africans helping freezing Norwegians fight the cold by sending them radiators in a tongue-in-cheek fictional campaign developed by Africa for Norway called Radi-Aid.

The campaign draws attention to unhelpful stereotypes worldwide, ethics in reporting on subjects such as poverty, and encourages people to become more educated about complex issues.

Since its launch just before Christmas, the video has had well over 2 million views on YouTube, and been shared over a quarter of a million times. The group who developed it, SAIH (The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund) should be very proud of their success.

Malarious – Watch Videos, Save Lives

Malaria No More teamed up with CollegeHumor to create a campaign that aims to end all malaria-related deaths in Africa by 2015. Over 30 celebrities were asked to contribute in creating the campaign known as Malarious, where people donate as little as $1 to access a collection of 24 videos and contribute to life-saving malaria treatment.

Malaria No More’s chief marketing officer Martin Edlund said that they are always looking for new and surprising ways to engage the public. “We’ve found that laughter is a great entry point to learning about this deadly, serious cause,” said Edlund. “We’re huge fans of CollegeHumor; they share our sense of experimentation, and they have hearts as big as their funny bones.”

The Shelter Pet Project – Saving Lives by Changing Minds

From 2011 The Shelter Pet Project created a series of television ads aimed at ‘saving lives by changing minds’. How? By showing us pieces to camera with a newly adopted pet telling us about the strange but loveable behaviours of their new humans.

It’s a collaborative effort between Maddie’s Fund, the Ad Council, and The Humane Society of the United States. The other videos in the series are well worth a giggle over, too – just search for The Shelter Pet Project on YouTube. Because we don’t share videos of funny, cute animals.

Metro Trains Melbourne – Dumb Ways To Die

One of the most successful viral campaigns of all time, Dumb Ways To Die is a public service announcement by Metro Trains Melbourne in an attempt to reduce the amount of deaths and promote rail safety around trains in Australia.

Using music and dark humour, the message aims to show that walking across train tracks or standing too close to the edge of a train platform is just as dumb as setting fire to your hair or using your private parts to feed piranha fish.

The campaign has nearly 40 million views, and has already been shared nearly 3 million times since its launch 2 weeks ago.

YouTube Australia’s Karen Stocks states three possible reasons for its success. “A snappy headline. A catchy tune that gets stuck in your head. And a message that it easy to understand and perfectly targeted.”

All wise advice for others wanting to create their own memorable viral video campaigns.


About the Author

Evon Koprowski
Brand storyteller, creative strategist, content marketer and all round bon vivant at Red Fortune Media where I growth hack projects for the arts, culture, tourism, technology and social sectors. I'm freelance - if I can help you, get in touch.

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