What U Can Do to Volunteer

After a season of advertising opportunities for consumption, we’re now seeing the medium being used to help people make the world a better place. Whatucando.org is a website designed to connect Americans with opportunities for volunteering, connecting with organizations, making donations, cause related shopping, venture philanthropy, gifts in kind and grants.

Screen shot from WhatUCanDo.org site

The introduction on the site says,
“There are many things you can do with your time. You can help, you can donate, you can spread the word. Currently, this site is home to more than 2,000 ways you can help make the world a better place. Do what you want, do what you can, or do what you must. What matters is that you do something.” Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube

The public are being invited to the site through word-of-mouth email networking and through the use of a television spot being screened in the PSA rotation on the ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates in Dallas, Texas. It has also run in some small west Texas markets. The ad is yet to be shown in national network airtime but it may well happen soon.

WhatUCanDo Still

In the meantime you can see the video online in a choice of three sizes of quicktime files: 1.6 mb, 4.02 mb and 5.17 mb.

The 30 second spot features footage of traumatized people in Rwanda juxtaposed with canned laughter and cheerful music. The super: “For the next thirty minutes you can enjoy your favorite sitcom. OR Start making a difference. Your call.” The ad finishes with a body being thrown off a truck and into a mass grave, to the accompaniment of laughter and applause. The screen blacks out and we’re given the web site address: whatucando.org. There’s a sigh, then blackness.

So who’s behind the campaign?

The developer of the whatucando.org site has asked to remain anonymous, wanting to help people rather than to benefit from publicity. There’s public sponsorship on the site from American Football, Online Degrees and Website Directory.

The campaign was conceived, produced, directed and edited in-house on the desktops of the creative team at Tribal DDB Dallas: Scott Johnson, executive creative director, Travis Staut, associate creative director and copywriter, and Braden Bickle, Associate Creative Director and art director.

I asked Scott to give us some of the background to the TV spot. Here’s what he said…

Where did the idea come from?

Our objective is always to bring a completely fresh approach to whatever we do. The public service category has been pretty well strip-mined in terms of the expected concepts. We wanted to do something so surprising, so disturbing that you couldn’t ignore it. I think the collision between the laugh track and the images of suffering in Africa accomplishes that. It puts a knot in your stomach. It makes you uncomfortable, but it does it for a purpose–getting you to get off your couch to do something.

The footage – what’s the context? And how about the music?

The footage in the spot was taken in Rwanda. The music is licensed from a commercial music library.

How’s the response going?

The response to the television spot has been outstanding. Numbers are good all the way around. We do track the number of times the spot has been forwarded online. Again, our client prefers not to share specific metrics, but we are talking about a very substantial number.

Have the creative team got any personal interest in the project? Has working on it challenged your priorities?

I think I can speak for the entire creative team – Travis Staut, Braden Bickle and myself – when I say we care a great deal about this project. It feels good to do something that actually helps people. This spot does. It grabs consumers by the lapels and shakes them. It’s difficult, if not impossible to ignore. Working on something likes this helps you reconnect with the power of our chosen profession when it’s done at a high level.

Filed under: Commercials, whatucando.org