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Homeless veteran timelapse proves an internet hit

This is a great example of a video that was simple, yet very powerful and shareable.

It also proves that to reach a huge audience, you don’t need a huge budget: just a story that creates an emotional attachment between the subject and the audience.

The video I’m talking about was produced by a US video company called Rob Bliss Creative for a Michigan-based non-profit organisation called Dégagé Ministries. It offers help and hope to homeless and disadvantaged individuals in the local community.

The premise of the video is very simple: to show what homelessness and alcoholism does to a human being and to prove that – with appropriate care and attention – even the unluckiest of us can regain our dignity and hope.

As a viewer you are curious to see how the veteran’s appearance changes and you know that a minute or two is short enough to keep you interested. What you don’t know is that the makeover is being done for a reason: to create an emotional impact and to persuade you to help the charity. And judging by the mind-boggling number of views this video has received on YouTube (almost 15 million views worldwide at the time of writing), it worked.

So here are the things we like about this video:

1. It establishes an emotional connection between the subject and the viewer.

2. It tells a story. (We believe that stories can be told about almost anything – regardless whether you are creating a corporate video or a product promo – and that’s what your customers or viewers want. Trust us.)

3. It’s short enough to keep the viewers interested, but long enough to tell the story and sell a specific message.

4. It’s simple.

5. It has an element of surprise.

6. It’s heartwarming and therefore human.

7. It’s shareable.

The video has received some criticism, mainly for allegedly trying to make us think that external appearance brings happiness, but I think those presenting such an argument miss the point of the video. It only shows what is possible when a hope-deprived human being is given help.

And no article or advertorial would ever achieve the same response. And that’s the power of video.