One need only point to the wildfire spread of “Kony 2012” to illustrate the power of a compelling video to disseminate a message quickly and widely. In the last week, three different YouTube videos aimed at behavior change have appeared in my social media stream and piqued my interest.
Here’s what the videos have in common:
- Present a counter-campaign: Each video takes a familiar “campaign” and flips it on its head. In this case, the “campaigns” are the Coca-Cola Polar Bears ad series, the popular Twitter hashtag #FirstWorldProblems, and Disney’s infatuation with princesses.
- Provide dramatic relief: Through poignant music, compelling characters, and the discomfort of cognitive dissonance, the videos invite the viewer into an emotional experience. Each video then includes recommended actions which can be taken to reduce the effect of the problem presented.
- Address self-efficacy: The underlying purpose of each video is to raise the viewer’s confidence that they can perform the desired behavior–whether it is reducing their own soda consumption, confronting the insensitivity that is often a side-effect of Internet humor, or embodying a different model of female empowerment.
While the effectiveness of these videos to actually influence behavior change remains to be seen, combined views of nearly 3 million suggest the format is effective for capturing attention and encouraging social sharing.
The Real Bears
Organization: Center for Science in the Public Interest
Views to date: 1.3 million
What the creators have to say: “Coke and Pepsi have skillfully cultivated incredibly strong emotional bonds with consumers around the world even though their products actually cause quite a bit of misery. The Real Bears seeks to sever some of those bonds, and to get people thinking about what they’re drinking. We don’t have their budgets but we do have the truth. And the truth is that soda equals sadness.”
Organization: Water is Life
Views to date: 1.4 million
What the creators have to say: “Our belief is that although the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag was created as a self-mocking mechanism for the privileged, these tweets about “problems” also showcase a lack of sensitivity about serious concerns and the ways that social media users can help improve real problems.”
I Am a Princess
Views to date: 102,000
What the creators have to say: “This is a celebration of what it truly means to be a Princess, today. To be brave. To be kind. To be generous and compassionate. Join Disney as we celebrate the Princess inside every young girl. Long may they reign!”
What are your thoughts on these counter-campaigns? Do you think this is an effective–or appropriate–way to influence behavior?