A core tenet of NewTeeVee is that video is an effective way to tell a story. That goes for everybody from big corporations like Starbucks on down, especially now that it’s so easy to make your film available to viewers using sites like YouTube.
This morning, Marshall pointed out a perfect example in the comments. A couple weeks ago, Oxfam posted a video on YouTube about protests against Starbucks’ lack of support for Ethiopian coffee growers, featuring interviews with sympathetic passerbys. Two days later, Starbucks responded by opening its own YouTube account to rebut the accusations one by one.
The Starbucks video doesn’t offer much in the way of facts and figures. “For us to do what we’ve been asked to do, which is sign a licensing agreement, recognizing the trademark right names of their geographies, is something that’s against the law,” attests Dub Hay, labeled “head of Starbucks Coffee Team.” The most specific he gets is claiming Starbucks has spent $2.4 million dollars over the last few years in social development projects, and saying “we do a lot for farmers.”
Yet somehow, a real person speaking in measured tones on camera, posted by a seemingly official StarbucksCoffeeCo account on YouTube, is convincing. Cynical-to-the-core Slashdotters were overwhelmingly supportive of Starbucks’ rebuttal. (“In other words: Oxfam just got own3d!” was the core thread.)
To date, the Starbucks video has about 17,000 views, while the Oxfam video has close to 24,000. A parallel text rebuttal was posted on the official Starbucks site (with no mention of the video), but it most likely reached far fewer people. Bloggers wrote that the incident earned Starbucks the highest blogosphere merit badge: they “get it.”
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal noted non-media companies like Monsanto, Sun Microsystems, Wal-Mart, General Motors, and Caldwell Banker are using video to “deliver corporate messages more effectively.”
Monsanto, for example, sent cameras to film farmers around the world giving testimonials about genetically modified corn and soybeans. The video campaign is a bit more polished, and a bit less savvy than the Starbucks’ example. “After I changed to transgenic corn, there were no worms destroying my crops. I am able now to take care of my family and my kids!” says Elizabeth Jele, a South African farmer.
OK, enough about the big guys reaching out to the little people. How’s about a dose of using video to stand up to the man? This morning, we were pointed to a clip posted by a 19-year-old in Missouri who was harassed at a DWI checkpoint. The 18-minute video’s probably not worth sitting through, as it comes from a static camera he’d affixed in his car, but it gives validity to the damning transcript, which is also published online.