We go about our daily business without realizing the power needed to change the world is sitting right in our pockets.
Just one really effective video taken with our cellphones can inspire a community, a nation, or the world to make a change for the better. To help empower more individuals to tell their stories through video, Viacom recently teamed up with the global human rights organization Witness, cofounded by musician Peter Gabriel, to launch a social activation campaign called Witness the Power of Story.
The campaign will reach millions of viewers across Viacom brands with PSAs that spotlight pressing social issues of our day – from racial stereotypes to gender bias – and encourage those viewers to share their own stories in an effort to bring about change.
Each PSA addresses a different issue. MTV’s Look Different initiative combats daily gender bias, CMT’s highlights the work being done through Empowering Education, VH1 Save the Music Foundation is the star of the channel’s PSA, BET’s celebrates young African American men, and Spike’s spotlights Veterans Operation Wellness and its efforts to motivate veterans to get healthy and stay that way.
The creative inspiration behind the PSAs was to call on the public to bear witness in a disruptive way. To better demonstrate the importance of each brand’s social issue, jarring videos and statistics were projected onto iconic buildings in New York over a two-day period, capturing the true, organic reactions of passersby.
For example, in creating the Veterans Operation Wellness PSA, we drew attention to the fact that, right now, 22 veterans commit suicide every day – which stopped many spectators in their tracks.
Over the next few months, our goal is to motivate viewers to go out and tell their own stories and those of their communities. At witness.viacom.com, visitors can download Witness’ strategies, techniques, and ethical practices for creating powerful change-making videos.
They can also learn how they can support the social issues championed by Viacom’s brands and share their own videos using #Story4Change. Given the climate around the world, it has never been more important to capture and share the stories that need to be told. Now that’s as easy as reaching into our pockets and pulling out the devices we use every day.
Ali Jannello Tuck is VP of corporate social responsibility and Viacommunity brand solutions at Viacom.