Non-Profit Video Campaigns that Win
For-profit companies churn out ad campaigns, videos, and other content on a huge scale. Non-profits don’t always produce content at the rate big brands do, but marketing is just as important—if not more so—for these organizations. Telling an inspiring story is the basis for most advertising campaigns, but non-profits have a clear reason for their existence that not all brands can boast. A non-profit company is in an excellent position to leverage visual media and video campaigns to achieve their main marketing goals of education, awareness, and calling their audience to action. These three examples of successful non-profit videos demonstrate the power of visual media when combined with a mission.
ALS Association: Ice Bucket Challenge
Almost every marketer would be thrilled to have their content go viral, but it doesn’t happen as often as some could wish. The ALS Association was established in 1985 and is currently the only national non-profit organization combatting Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease through research, care, public education, and public policy.
In 2014, ALS launched the “Ice Bucket Challenge” and it soon became a global social media phenomenon with over 17 million participants uploading challenge videos to Facebook. Over 440 million people watched the videos a combined 10 billion times. The challenge has since become an annual event to raise capital (over $94 million) and increase awareness of ALS. The Ice Bucket Challenge saw massive, grass-roots style engagement and thus saw tremendous success for several reasons. The challenging nature encouraged reciprocity – when someone participates, they then nominate three friends to complete it. The “pass-it-on” nature puts some healthy pressure on people to complete the challenge.
The public nature also helped create social proof which both encouraged people to act and helped spread further awareness about ALS. The Ice Bucket Challenge began as an organic campaign started by passionate advocates, which gave it a completely genuine sense of authenticity. The challenge itself was simple – pour a bucket of ice water on your head in the spirit of sports victory celebrations and donate to help cure ALS. The campaign didn’t have the regular marketing gimmicks and most people could complete it with a few items they already had on hand. The ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge proves that visual marketing is an incredibly powerful tool for non-profits, especially when you can challenge your friends to publicly get involved.
Truth Initiative: truth
The Truth Initiative is one of the most effective tobacco prevention campaigns that is targeted at educating youths about the dangers of smoking. They have a variety of videos that expose the facts about the consequences of tobacco use as well as calling out the underhanded marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.
Their “Worth More” campaign netted an Emmy as well as other awards for advertising efficacy and prevented more than 300,000 young adults in the US from becoming smokers from 2015-2016. The truth campaigns are known for portraying a powerful message in attention-grabbing, honest fashion. Unlike some other non-profit campaigns, truth advertisements have clear branding that is easily recognizable—something they have found to resonate with their target audience.As knowledge and attitude about smoking has shifted, so has truth’s messaging. The organization has shown its ability to successfully evolve with its new target audience every decade.
For today’s audience of Gen Z and the younger Millennials, the truth has continued to use a bold tone and to integrate celebrities and pop culture while also taking advantage of the new popularity of online influencers. These tactics help empower the audience to be part of the movement through the current “FinishIT” campaign. The campaigns created by truth show how effective video marketing can be for non-profits to educate and empower their audience. Through the Truth Initiative’s many successful video campaigns, generations of young people are learning the truth about smoking and “Big Tobacco” and are making healthier choices.
Ad Council: Love Has No Labels
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization that “produces, distributes, and promotes campaigns that improve everyday lives.” They are responsible for promoting and producing campaigns for non-profits that support these goals. One example is the “Love Has No Labels” campaign, which won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial at the Creative Arts Emmys in 2015—the first PSA (public service announcement) to win an Emmy.
“Love Has No Labels” focuses on diversity and inclusion for everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc. Their initial video—which showed a massive x-ray screen with skeletons interacting with one another before revealing the actual people behind the screen—went viral and earned over 160 million views on YouTube within a year.
“Love Has No Labels” has released several different iterations. Their “Fans of Love” spot was filmed during the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl and used the well-recognized “Kiss Cam” to highlight couples, friends, and families that embody the “Love Has No Labels” message. Many for-profit companies like PepsiCo, P&G, Bank of America, Google, and more have become sponsors of the campaign and support the initiative through funding and spreading the content across their brand social channels. The “Love Has No Labels” campaigns are impactful for several reasons. Firstly, they rely on flipping preconceived notions and stereotypes in a compelling visual way. Secondly, they are extremely shareable across multiple platforms and have benefitted from a partnership with big-name brands that help spread the content to a wider audience.
More B2B and B2C companies are becoming openly socially and environmentally conscious, but non-profits are entirely based on specific missions and values. Non-profits often suffer from a lack of funding that B2B and B2C marketers may not face and less than 24% of non-profit marketers consider their organization’s content marketing approach as successful. However, video marketing is an excellent option for non-profits since it provides a compelling, visual medium with which to tell their stories and inspire their audiences.
Do you agree or disagree that non-profits should spend money on video marketing? Let us know in the comments below!