Make It Work: Casting for Branded Content Videos
How do we do it? This is a question we should ask ourselves more regularly. Balancing work, family, and social expectations is no small feat. There are hurdles everywhere and our ability to overcome them should be celebrated. Somehow, day in and day out, we make it work.
Still, it should be easier.
Make It Work is a three-year education campaign whose platform states that Americans shouldn’t have to choose between making a living and actually living. The organization spread their message through the #HowWeDoIt hashtag and a series of activations that spanned 2015 – 2016, leading up to the 2016 general election.
When they approached us about building a short for their first activation, we developed two goals for the creative process:
1) Bolster these concerns as an important part of the national dialogue.
2) Introduce a new way to think about everyday economic issues.
So how did WE make it work?
To accomplish our first goal, we developed a character many of us can relate to: a single mother overwhelmed by the unacknowledged hardships that come with simply being a single mother.
Our video follows this mother—played by Adrienne C. Moore of the award-winning Netflix series, Orange Is the New Black—through a day plagued by these hardships: Showing up to work even when you’re sick. Staying patient with an overlyhelpful son who just flushed the bills down the toilet. Buying cookies for the latest school function when the prospect of a nap is bliss.
Moore was excellent in the role, and she was a staunch advocate of Make It Work’s mission throughout the process. So were we. We generated all the content, developed a narrative, ran both the comedy and viral campaigns, and hired Moore as our star. Her support for the project was on display in an interview with MSNBC , which became the leading story on their homepage.
In total, 10 media outlets and 70 organizations shared the two versions of our video—a five-minute full-length and a 30-second trailer—that were used as vehicles for their mission. Collectively, these were viewed over 1.2 million times in the first month alone.
We used Facebook as our primary distribution platform, and 94% of viewers found the videos organically. This number reflects the short’s ability to resonate on a human level. It inspired thousands of shares, and reviews that called it “mandatory viewing for every grown up who would give their last nickel for a nap.”
This is the reality of the American economic condition that so many of us have to face. Overwork is the status quo, and we deal with it through humor and resolve. So we used humor and resolve to challenge it. We shot our final scene in a classroom filled with parents who have been organizing their kids’ school play after work. It’s equal parts heroic and hilarious. To her drained troop of parents, Moore’s character speaks valiantly: “I’m not a hero and I shouldn’t have to be. None of us should – it shouldn’t be this hard!”
Indeed. We should be empowered for simply “showing up,” because that’s hard enough. So, we thought, let’s unite around all the people that show up. Because this is the new way we should think about economic issues. As Moore aptly adds, “It’s bigger than all of us, so it’s going to take all of us.” And if we start thinking this way together, we can begin to change the conversation. We can begin to make it work.