Non-profit organisation UNICEF have created a new video which is very different from their usual style, and it seems to be working for them. What aspects of video marketing did UNICEF nail with this ad, and how could they have done even better?

UNICEF is a charity that fights for the rights of children around the world.  They frequently making videos highlighting the plight of children in poverty, living in disaster areas or warzones, or suffering from disease or malnutrition.  Those videos are often emotional but, due to the subject matter, often somewhat depressing or challenging to watch.  With this video, they’ve gone for a totally different emotion, presumably in the hope of getting some additional engagement and sharing behaviour.

What did they do right?

The video is cute, no question.  To those in the know, it’s a clear (and less entertaining) copy of the ‘Dear Kitten’ videos that Buzzfeed made for Purina cat food.

However, even if you’ve seen those videos, it’s a fun, entertaining way of pointing out the importance of every child’s beginning.

The description for the Dear Baby video on YouTube is excellent.  It’s clear, informative, keyword rich, packed with relevant links to campaign specific pages and social networks.  The only thing that could make it better would be if the link was shown higher up so that you didn’t have to click ‘Show More’ to see it.

What did they do wrong?

It’s interesting that the description is great, because this video was not intended for YouTube.  It’s a Facebook video.  You can tell, because the text ‘better with sound’ appears towards the beginning.  This is great on Facebook, where videos start muted by default, but meaningless and distracting on YouTube.  Also, the captions at the bottom of the screen are unnecessary on YouTube. Most people don’t need them, and for those that do there is a better solution – YouTube’s own closed captions.  These give the viewer the choice to have captions or not. More importantly, YouTube (and Google) index the captions, making the content of the video searchable.

UNICEF intended the video for Facebook because they have a much bigger audience there.  Indeed, the video has over 5 million views on Facebook.  We’ve talked about why you should also post your videos to YouTube before, but that doesn’t mean just throwing the same video file up there.  Different platforms have different needs, and it would hardly have taken any time at all to export a version of this ad without the onscreen text.

Finally, if UNICEF really want to maximise the effectiveness of YouTube as a platform, they should use all the non-profit features available to them.  One of which would allow them to collect donations from viewers, right there on the video. Maybe they wouldn’t get very much from their 93,000 subscribers, but as their website says, even £3 can buy a warm winter blanket for a Syrian child.  Surely that’s worth a few minutes reading about the YouTube Non-Profit programme.


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