Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our Must-See CSR picks: Five cause marketing videos to watch

(This article first appeared on Advertising Age's GOOD WORKS blog.)

If you look at studies about Millennials' penchant for service or society's growing fascination with all things green, it's not surprising that businesses are thinking more and more about how they can increase awareness for social causes as they increase their margins. Earlier this year, Pepsi decided to forego its million-dollar Super Bowl spot in favor of an enormous social media campaign focused on investing in communities and giving back.

Cause marketing isn't new to YouTube -- businesses such as Starbucks and Timberland have been churning out videos on behalf of causes for years, through contests, viral marketing spots and disaster relief pleas. But some are doing it better than others. Here's a look at five videos companies should watch before launching a corporate social responsibility campaign on YouTube:

1. Help the Honey Bees, Haagen-Dazs

This video had YouTube buzzing in 2008. Capitalizing on the popular B-boy/dance battle trend on YouTube, the video mixed impressive dance moves with a catchy beat and kept the audience's attention until the end--when it revealed that it was a video to raise awareness about Colony Collapse Disorder and the widespread disappearance of bees from our environment.

2. The Girl Effect, Nike Foundation

Nike is known for its creative advertising, so it's no surprise that the Nike Foundation's Girl Effect video found an immediate audience on YouTube. It is often said that the most successful corporate cause marketing initiatives help boost a company's bottom line as well as support an important cause. Nike captures women's attention and succeeds on both fronts with this catchy animated short.

3. One Day Without Shoes, TOMS Shoes

With its "One Day Without Shoes" video campaign, TOMS Shoes reinforced a valuable YouTube message: Empower others to become your video advocates. TOMS asked YouTube users to create their own original videos endorsing the campaign (and promoting the TOMS brand by default), and received numerous pieces, including this one from user Rashnu; one from the Jonas Brothers; and this vlog from one of YouTube's most popular users, Mitchell Davis.

4. The Cove PSA: My Friend Is..., Participant Productions

If you're a production company that has just released a documentary about an important cause, you're probably thinking about how to fill those theater seats. Participant Productions cleverly decided to use its connections to create this funny YouTube trailer starring such Hollywood heavyweights as Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller. The video seeks to help prevent the fishing of dolphins while getting people excited about the main documentary event.

5. How to Clean Ovens, Seventh Generation

Seventh Generation is a cleaning brand that has built its business on its environmental reputation. But you may not know that the company is also a huge supporter of WAGES, Women's Action to Gain Economic Security. This how-to video series from Seventh Generation stars members of the WAGES community and shows the company's willingness to put the people and ideas it supports front and center.

Posted by Ramya Raghavan, Nonprofits Manager

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watch the Gulf oil spill on YouTube and submit your idea on how to fix it

Since the BP oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, over six million gallons of oil have poured into the water. Now you can see what’s happening firsthand on YouTube, through a live stream of the leak on PBS NewsHour’s YouTube channel. Today, BP will begin their “top kill” procedure, which will attempt to drill mud into the well to block the flowing oil. Thanks to the urging of Congress, you’ll be able to witness the entire process in real-time on YouTube.

Now that you can see what’s going on, PBS and YouTube want you to
submit your best ideas, via Google Moderator, on how to stop this environmental catastrophe. PBS NewsHour will air some of the top YouTube submissions in their broadcast tomorrow evening and online:

Many of you have already come up with creative solutions on how to stop the leak or clean up the spill, and you’re using video to make these ideas come to life. Here are a few innovative examples:

Tune in to the live stream
here, and if you have ideas you think BP should hear, submit them before 5 p.m. (ET) tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hair, hay and more: Citizens flood YouTube with suggestions on how to clean up the oil spill

Since the oil spill happened, we've seen dozens of videos pour onto YouTube from citizens suggesting innovative solutions for how to clean up the spill or stop the leak. One of the most popular videos is this one, which suggests using hair to soak up the oil:

Users like djjennm are echoing this sentiment and even taking is a step further - she's collecting hair that can go towards the clean up effort. A vaguely similar oil removal technique that is also getting traction (to the tune of close to 200,000 YouTube views) comes from Otis Goodson in Florida:

There are countless other videos from citizens with ideas - some involve complex animations or experiments, while others are just simple straight to camera thoughts. One thing is certain - the public is extremely interested in how to solve this environmental crisis. Take a spin through this playlist for proof:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dale Peterson and PA Dems present this week's must-watch political ads

As primaries heat up, campaigns are churning out ads at a fast and furious rate. Here are two recent ads that are rapidly climbing the YouTube charts and making waves in the blogosphere.

First up is Dale Peterson. If you just scratched your head and wondered "who the heck is Dale Peterson?" he's a farmer, a businessman, a Marine and a cop. And oh yea, he just became the most famous candidate for Alabama Agricultural Commissioner in the state's history, thanks to this video, which is rapidly going viral:

And in anticipation of the heated Democratic PA primary tomorrow, both Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter have been rolling out new ads. In this video, featuring Michael J. Fox, Specter shows that he's with the Dems in regard to medical/stem cell research:

But Sestak isn't so sure that Specter has shed his Republican roots and released this takedown, which paints Bush and Specter as the best of friends:

We'll see whose ads were more effective after tomorrow.

Violence between Red Shirts and Thai army intensifies - moments caught on camera

The bloodshed continues today in Bangkok as the Red Shirt protesters refuse to step down and abandon their posts in Central Bangkok, despite government demands and threats.

User isalex112507 captured a series of videos from a clash yesterday, which he calls "The Battle of Bon Kai."

This video sets the scene on Rama 4 roadway where the Red Shirts and the Thai army are facing off against one another. Gunshots can be heard clearly in the background:

Here, the cameraman is positioned with several Thai men inside a building between where the Reds and the army are shooting at each other.

Here you can see protesters hiding behind large barricades made of tires:

This video shows a Red Shirt throwing a C4 grenade at the military, which shoots back at him in turn:

We continue to add videos to this playlist on CitizenTube.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Red Shirt" protesters clash with Thai military, caught on video

For the past three days, since Seh Daeng, defected Thai army officer and leader of anti-government protesters, was shot in the head, violence has raged in downtown Bangkok.

The protesters, known as the "Red Shirts", have taken to the streets again to demand the return of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was expelled from the country after a coup in 2006.  The Thai military, which clashed violently with the Red Shirt protesters in early April, has taken up arms again to crack down against the mounting dissent.  

Since last Thursday, more than 30 people have been killed, and over 230 are injured, and attempted negotiations between the two parties do not look promising.

Some video footage of these recent clashes has surfaced on YouTube, though not as much as was uploaded during the April protests.  We cannot verify when or where these videos were taken, and are thus relying in each case on the information provided by the uploader.

This clip, taken from above the Rama 4 roadway in Bangkok, shows a group of protesters in the streets scattering after gunshots are fired.  As the person holding the camera starts to run, the focus of the image is lost, but you can clearly hear the commotion as people run for safety.

User reggaejames also appears to be at the Rama 4 scene, but on the ground level.  He has a series of videos on his channel that shows before, during, and after the gunfire.

This video allegedly shows snipers in the Thai military shooting at Red Shirt protesters:

For more videos from Thailand, check out this playlist, which we will continue to update.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Defining democracy through art

An Egyptian man says it’s like flying freely through the street in your pajamas. A Burundian YouTube user compares it to striking guitar chords to make a beautiful melody. An Indian videographer says it’s like coming together over a cricket game. And a Polish citizen says it’s like a roll of toilet paper. Though their messages are as diverse as the countries they come from, all of these videos are aiming to define something that philosophers have spent centuries debating: what is democracy?

Once again this year, we’re partnering with the State Department and several civic organizations on the Democracy Video Challenge, a global contest that asks people to submit short videos that complete the sentence, “Democracy is...” Starting today, you can vote on your favorite videos from among 18 finalists. The six most popular entrants will fly to the U.S. for a tour of civic and film organizations in Washington, D.C., New York City and Hollywood.

Head over to the Democracy Video Challenge channel page to log your votes now. You can vote once per day until June 15; winners will be announced shortly after. But don’t just vote...leave your comments on the video to let these videographers know what you think of their work. The project is meant to start a discussion. Though there’s no one answer, it’s through dialogue that our understanding of democracy continues to evolve.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched “Learning with Socrates.”

Friday, May 7, 2010

Deepwater Horizon YouTube channel provides raw videos from Gulf Coast oil spill clean-up

If you're looking for the latest news and information about the oil spill, check out this YouTube channel for the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast Spill Response team.  They are posting raw videos from the scene, like this one that shows the U.S. Coast Guard trying to skim oil off the surface of the Gulf waters.

In this video, you can see the oil gushing into the ocean waters starting at about 1:00.

Honoring those who give voice to the silenced

(cross posted from the Official Google Blog)

It's said that change comes through the concerted efforts of small groups of people who dream of better times ahead. And then do something about it.

Today in Santiago, Chile, Google and the group Global Voices recognized three groups from around the world who are fighting for free expression online from Africa to Asia with the first"Breaking Borders" awards. These awards, supported by Thomson Reuters, are meant to honor those who are using the Internet to give voice to those once silenced, make the activities of governments more transparent, and standing up for the rights of dissidents.

The awards — given today at the Global Voices Summit where Internet activists from 60 countries have gathered — were originally announced November 3, 2009, when Google and others marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the aim of celebrating how the Internet has become a vital ally in worldwide efforts to advance freedom and political change. This is particularly true at a time when dissidents, journalists and bloggers remain under severe pressure in the online and offline worlds.

An international jury of experts reviewed nominations from around the world and chose the awardees in three categories: advocacy, technology and policy. Each of the groups honored will receive a $10,000 grant to further their work. The winners are: (advocacy)
An online community for Zimbabwean activists, Kubatana uses the Internet, email, SMS, blogs and print materials to disseminate information to the general public. Cited for its extraordinary contributions while operating under in a tense and dangerous political atmosphere, Kubatana's contributions also include an online library of more than 16,000 human rights and civic reports together with a directory listing over 240 NGOs. Beyond its significance as a resource for information on Zimbabwe, Kubatana has also developed Freedom Fone, innovative software that marries the mobile phone to audio voice menus and SMS to give citizens new ways to communicate with one another.

BOSCO - Uganda
BOSCO was cited for its tremendously effective and creative use of long-exisiting technology to foster social and economic development and peace building in rural communities of northern Uganda. Launched in April 2007, BOSCO began as a solar powered, long-range wireless computer network covering locations in former Internally Displaced Persons camps across the Gulu and Amuru districts. Low power PCs and VoIP phones were installed in schools, health centers and parish offices, bringing Internet, phone and Intranet connectivity to remote areas. BOSCO's long-term vision is to build collaborative, web-based networks. Today it focuses on developing and facilitating Web 2.0 training, online digital ethnography and collaborative online communication mediums between Internet sites.

The Philippines Center for Investigative Journalism
An independent, not-for-profit media agency, the PCIJ was founded by nine Filipino journalists in 1989 — with borrowed office space, an old-DOS-based computer, a second-hand electric typewriter, and office furniture bought from a thrift shop — to promote the values of investigative reporting in fostering good governance, freedom of expression, and the people's right to know. In 20 years, the PCIJ has produced 500 investigative reports, two dozen books on journalism and governance, five full-length films and dozens of video documentaries. It has conducted a hundred training seminars for journalists in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and won over 120 national and international awards. The PCIJ maintains a multimediawebsite, an institutional blog; a database site on politics and governance; and institutional accounts on Twitter and YouTube.

Project: Report screening and reception in Washington D.C.

For all of you in the DC area next week, we invite you to join YouTube and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for a special Project: Report film screening and reception at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

The five grand prize finalists of Project: Report, YouTube's contest for aspiring journalists, will be in attendance to show their winning videos and talk about their work.

For any student journalists, this is a great opportunity to talk with YouTube and Pulitzer Center representatives, and learn more about upcoming Pulitzer Center opportunities.

Here are the details:

Telling the Untold Stories
Monday, May 10
6:00 pm (reception to follow) 
Free admission

The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs
Jack Morton Auditorium
805 21st Street NW  Washington, DC
Nearest Metro: Foggy Bottom/Orange or Blue Lines


RSVP is appreciated:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The demon sheep saga continues...

Earlier this year, we posted about California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina's "Demon Sheep" video, which is probably the most talked-about political ad of this election cycle. With over 750,000 views, it has already spawned several parodies from members of the YouTube community.

Now the Democrats are getting in on the action - the DSCC has just released "Demon Sheep: Mutton on the Lamb," in which they report that Fiorina is "fleecing" California. They also insert several other sheep-related puns, which you can see for yourself here:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nashville videos flood YouTube

Nashville and surrounding areas in Tennessee are enduring historic floods right now, after receiving more than 13 inches of rain in two days.  With cars floating down the street, popular stores underwater, and rivers rushing where dry land used to be, Nashville has been transformed and its residents are documenting the scene and uploading their videos to YouTube, where they're getting tens of thousands of views.

Here are a few videos that show just how extreme the conditions are:

Opreyland Hotel filled with water:

A man caught a large carp in the flood waters near his home:

This guy decides to go kayaking in his street:

Nashville's LP stadium filled with water:

And this beautifully-shot, yet somber video shows what Nashville looks like -- underwater:

More videos can be found in this playlist, and by searching on YouTube.

Greek protests turn violent

Today, protests erupted in Greece after the government announced cut backs in federal wages and pensions in the wake of its current financial crisis.

Thousands of angry Greek citizens, outraged at how the government is handling the country's mounting debts, took the the streets, and police forces were dispatched to handle the crowds.  However, things turned violent, three protesters have now died, and clashes between citizens and the police have been documented on video and uploaded to YouTube.

For more videos, see this playlist on CitizenTube.

Britain's first-ever YouTube-fueled election gets ready for the polls

[posted by Tim Partridge, YouTube UK]

After months of build-up and weeks of campaigning, the British electorate will go to the polls tomorrow. The 2010 General Election has been notable in a number of ways. During the last British election, YouTube didn't even exist - so it's been interesting to see how the campaign has played out on the site. We saw parties, activists and voters using online video in new and innovative ways, including the Labour party’s video manifesto, behind-the-scenes footage from David Cameron on the road, and the ‘Labservative’ viral created for the Lib Dems.

Here at YouTube we joined forces with Facebook to launch the UK’s first Digital Debate, giving users from both sites the opportunity to have their questions answered by Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. More than 5,300 questions were put forward with the top 10 decided after the casting of 180,000 votes.

The process threw up some interesting responses from the leaders: Gordon Brown stated that civil liberties are “the fundamental tenet of our constitution”, Cameron argued that burglars “leave their human rights at the door” and Clegg conceded that he “couldn’t predict how I would react” if confronted by an intruder at his family home.

The top 10 included questions on the funding of scientific research, the voting system, student loans, drug policy, private property, policing, immigration, the UK-US relationship, the Digital Economy Bill and the economy.

Of course not all questions made it through, and below you can read some of our favourites that didn’t...

"Where are the jobs. Where are they? Also what is your favourite food?" Dmackers, Durham

"What is your opinion on a philosopher king? Should our policies that govern our lives be justified more through philosophy and ethics rather than money?" Macroverse, Shropshire

"The Stocks looked to have been an effective crime deterrent in the Middle Ages. Would you consider the introduction of a modern equivalent, perhaps financial/electronic but immensely public that would perhaps have more impact than current measures?" Kevin Peirce, Ipswich

"What's your favourite type of Pokemon?" Sheridan, Northumberland

Stay tuned to YouTube tomorrow to hear election reactions from citizens and politicians in what has been a fascinating election campaign.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Diane von Furstenberg’s Favorite Trend for May: Helping Women Thrive

Diane von Furstenberg is a legendary fashion designer, and she’s also a big believer in celebrating women. That’s why, with Mother’s Day around the corner, we’re thrilled that she’s serving as the Video Volunteers guest curator for this month and asking you to create videos for organizations that support women.

Every day on YouTube, we see women standing up for what they believe in and challenging inequality, from this Saudi Arabian woman driving a car as an act of protest, to the Queen Rania Jordan combating stereotypes of the Middle East. Now we want you to make your voice heard. Create a video about your favorite organization that supports women -- whether it promotes equal pay for equal work, helps women run for elected office, or is trying to outlaw female genital mutilation -- and upload it to the Video Volunteers channel.

The top three videos will appear on the YouTube homepage at the end of the month, next to Diane von Furstenberg’s video for Vital Voices. Hear more from her about how you can get involved:

The deadline to submit your video is May 26 so check out to find an inspirational organization you can help. After all, service never goes out of style.