Video case studies

Video to inform & educate
From documenting injustice and recording testimonies, to amplifying voices, through to short public-service announcements, these examples highlight how a wide-ranging and dynamic video can raise awareness.

Video bloggers / debate on police brutality
For many years, human rights organisations have reported that torture and abuse are rife in Egypt's police stations. It wasn't until videos emerged showing some of the worst of these violations that the spotlight was really trained on the conduct of Egypt's police. Bloggers such as Wael Abbas brought international attention to police torture by publicising these videos that show officers beating and sodomising suspects.
Network: Egyptian Bloggers and Vloggers
Watch Abas's video
Additional videos from bloggers on police brutality

Viral online animation / “Meatrix” factory farming satire
The Meatrix is a four-minute online animation that spoofs the Matrix movies, while educating viewers about the problems with factory farming and today’s meat and dairy supplies. The film is a humorous and creative satire. When it launched in November 2003, this viral film broke new ground in online grassroots advocacy. It has been translated into more than 30 languages and is widely considered one of the most successful online advocacy films to date, with well over 15 million viewers worldwide.
Watch The Meatris videos
Organisation: GRACE and Sustainable Table

Animation / Chevron “Toxico” campaign
Chevron Texaco are known to have dumped over 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water in the Ecuadorian Amazon, which is the largest oil-related environmental disaster in the world. Amazon Watch works with indigenous and environmental organisations in the Amazon Basin to defend their rights.
Watch the video at The Hub website

Video to build your base of supporters
It is essential to link your video to actions that viewers can take to learn more and build pressure. Many videos link to online petitions or pledges, which ultimately help build your base of supporters by inviting them to sign up to your e-newsletter or other form of outreach.

Courage campaign / Don't divorce us
The Courage Campaign is an online organising network that works with grassroots activists to push for progressive change and equality in California. This video 'Don't divorce us' addresses a bill that would invalidate 18,000 same sex marriages. Those affected were asked to send in a photo.
Watch the 'Don't divorce us!' video here


30 Days for a Million Voices project
The US Campaign for Burma’s (USCB) 30 Days for a Million Voices project brought together dozens of celebrities and well-known advocates to call for one million people to join USCB’s global movement to support human rights in Burma.
Watch the campaign video here


Online action – create, collaborate, connect, go viral
Online video advocacy via sites including the Witness Hub, YouTube,, dotSUB and many others allow you to post short video clips that supporters can then use and share online and via offline screenings. Sometimes, these clips can ‘go viral’, generating attention for your advocacy work. They can be linked to websites and email campaigns to encourage people to sign petitions, pledges & statements of support. New tools also allow you to help people collaborate online to create and share their own media in support of your campaign. As with all online work, both your supporters and your general audience must have internet access.


Religious harmony / Avaaz – Stop the Clash of Civilisations
One of the all-time top videos on YouTube, Avaaz’s video debunks the myth of a fundamental clash between Islam and the West and exposes it as a problem of politics, not cultures.


Environment / Greenpeace's Oceans Campaign
Breathe in, breathe out, a silent 60-second video, is one of Greenpeace's most viewed videos online


Human rights / Amnesty’s 'The Cell Tour' 
This video enables online viewers to see Amnesty's replica of a cell at Guantánamo touring the US. See how people inside the cell react to the experience. Then record your own message and add your voice to the thousands protesting against illegal US detentions. 
Watch the video at the Amnesty International 'Cell Tour' website


Offline action – communities watching & acting together
Many videos can be built into grassroots campaigns through public screenings, with the help of your support network and materials such as information packs, handbooks or manuals.


Youth-led response to prison system / Books not Bars
This video documented the inspiring youth-led movement against the growth of the US prison industry, particularly in California.

It was linked with an Action Pack that provides examples of tangible ways for youth to participate in the movement to reform the prison system, and created extensive lesson plans for high school students that examine incarceration-related issues within a human rights framework. 
Watch the video at the WITNESS website

Water rights / stop the privitisation of water 
This video informed slum dwellers that the Mumbai Municipal Authority was planning to privatise their water supply. After the screenings, 300 people instead of the usual 60 showed up for a government meeting on water and demanded that the officials come clean about the plan and the costs to slum dwellers. Shortly after that meeting, the government halted the privatisation plan in that part of Mumbai, and started supplying water twice a day instead of once in that particular area.

Organisation: Video Volunteers
Watch the video at the WITNESS website


Video in campaigns about corporate behaviour
For many corporations, their brand is their identity. Once muddied or tarnished, stock prices and profits can drop, and jeopardise their strength. Culture jamming with video can turn the table on the powerful. This often involves changing mass media images to produce ironic or satirical commentary about the images and brands themselves, using the original medium's communication method. See this wiki entry for more info on culture jamming.

Other examples


Mobile video documentation

Students for Free Tibet
In August 2007 a group from Students for Free Tibet reppelled down the Great Wall of China. The action was streamed live via mobile phone videos using Skype to New York, then posted online on YouTube.


Burma cyclone, 2008
Mobile phone and camcorder videos of the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis were compiled into DVDs. These were sold in Burma and smuggled out of the country: See this article for more information.

Photo courtesy of ABCNT

Neda Soltani
In Iran in June 2009, a young woman called Neda Soltani was shot during protests by tens of thousands of people contesting the outcome of the recent presidential election. She was filmed on a mobile phone as she lay surrounded by people trying, unsuccessfully, to save her life.

Within hours the footage was on YouTube and Facebook, and was viewed by tens of thousands around the world. While it is too soon to say what the ultimate impact of this will be, these images have helped bring home the seriousness of these protests.
Watch this video on YouTube

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