This video makes you think and it makes you feel.
Western Sydney University developed a series of promotional videos to showcase the stories of graduates from their school.
All of the videos in this series were high quality, well executed dramatizations that delivered engaging stories of recent graduates. These videos also provided a unique opportunity to examine what makes a marketing video successful.
To help maintain a level playing field for purposes of this article, the two videos highlighted even happen to feature the same excellent Jarryd James song – Do You Remember.
Take a moment to watch both videos.
Both videos are engaging, both tell a fascinating story and yet only one is truly powerful.
It’s difficult to watch Deng Adut’s story and not be overwhelmed by the challenges he had to overcome and the determination required for him to achieve what he did: Escaping conscription into the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army; teaching himself to read as a teenager; living alone in a foreign country; sleeping in his car and juggling part-time jobs.
It’s a remarkable story.
We’re reminded at the end of the video that Deng grew up without the love and protection of his mother. Those last few frames in the video are incredible. We can only imagine the pain and grief the two have experienced and the bittersweet knowledge that, against all odds, Deng’s courage and determination helped him succeed.
That’s the feeling part.
This video couldn’t come at a more important time as the refugee crisis continues to grow across Europe and the world takes a dangerous right turn towards more insular and nativist politics. Our reptilian brains are trained to respond to negative stimuli – that’s how we survive and that’s why the media only feeds us information that scares the hell out of us.
What we really need to hear are the positive stories associated with a more open and inclusive world and about the benefits of helping others in need. We North American’s often forget that we’re all children of immigrants, that immigration is a good thing and that helping others is just as important as enriching ourselves.
You don’t have to agree with the politics. What’s important is that this video actually makes you think for a moment as well. We’re all immigrants, or we’re a few generations removed from our families’ immigrant roots.
This video has been hugely successful attracting millions of views to date and generating a great deal of media coverage. The other video is very good but does not come close to achieving this level of attention.
Why? Both were well crafted dramatizations but only Deng Adut’s story left a powerful impression. The other story did not.
If you can make the viewer of your video think and feel something then you will leave a lasting impression. That’s an awfully difficult thing to do, by the way. If it was easy, the other videos in this series, produced by the same production company for the same client, would have been just as powerful.
Western Sydney University chose a non-standard path in deciding to dramatize the stories of their students. By doing so they have separated themselves from the mass of undifferentiated college promotions and chose instead to inspire the viewer with the possibilities that come from a Western Sydney degree.
Deng Adut’s story reminds us all of the good that can come from helping those in need. Thank you Australia and thank you Western Sydney.