The power of humanity

SenateSHJ Partner Angela Scaffidi reports back from the PROI Worldwide Conference in Hong Kong, where one campaign stood out above all others.

What would you do if you saw a small boy sitting at a bus stop, struggling to cope with the cold? Would you give him your coat? Or would you walk on by, silently willing the next person to stop and lend a hand?

This was the focus of a hidden camera video shot in Norway, created to draw attention to the plight of children facing a long, cold winter in Syria.

The video became a viral sensation and, at last count, has been seen by more than 14 million people across the globe.

The campaign was created by Släger, SenateSHJ’s partner in Norway, and was the highlight of the recent PROI Worldwide conference in Hong Kong.

The video had the perfect mix of ingredients: a child in need, kind strangers, emotive music and an important message for the community. It turned the problems in Syria into a local problem, and passers-by into participants.

The creator, Henning Sverdrup, chose to focus on the people making the donation, not on the charity or children in need of the donation. The donor was the ordinary person but also the hero. The storyline encourages us to think – what would I do? Would I help a child in need? The viewers become part of the experiment in kindness.

The video was shot over two days and all but three of the passers-by stopped to help the freezing boy.

Henning said he thought up the idea for the video when he was reading Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Little Match Girl’ to his young children.

In the story a poor girl tries to sell matches to passers-by. She lights a match for warmth and sees lovely visions of people enjoying their Christmas trees and family meals. She also sees the face of her kind grandmother. She keeps striking matches to keep the vision of her grandmother alive. When she runs out of matches, the child dies and her grandmother takes her soul to heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the little girl’s body and take pity on her.

The campaign was produced on a shoestring budget to encourage Norwegians to donate money to SOS Children’s Villages to keep Syrian children warm during winter. So far, the charity has received more than 10 times the funds it had hoped to raise through the campaign.

The Huffington Post was one of the first international media outlets to cover the story. The article generated 410,000 Facebook-likes, 75,000 Facebook-shares, 3,000 tweets and 1,200 comments.

SenateSHJ is a proud partner of PROI Worldwide, the largest partnership of independent communication agencies in the world. PROI’s reach includes 60 partners in 50 countries and on five continents.