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Viral Review: Save The Children Sequel Pulls No Punches In Hard-Hitting Campaign

This article originally appeared in Campaign magazine.

Save The Children: Still The Most Shocking Second A Day Video

Agency: Don’t Panic

Rating: 9/10

Often it takes a charitable venture or a humanitarian cause to highlight the impact effective social video marketing can really have. While brands may jostle to boost their profile, deliver ROI or ‘win the week’, the importance of attracting an online audience is underlined when the outcome of that campaign might be increased awareness, increased donations and, ultimately, saving lives.

This was certainly the case with Save The Children’s ground-breaking 2014 campaign, ‘Most Shocking Second A Day Video’. If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen this spot already. After all, it’s been seen over 53 million times, reached Reddit’s frontpage twice and was written up in countless national newspapers.

The campaign’s alternate title was ‘If London Was Syria’ and this gives a strong sense of the video’s content. Playing on the then-ubiquitous genre of ‘second a day’ videos, usually reserved for travel bloggers and other aspirational content, Save The Children’s campaign shocked viewers around the world. Transplanting the plight of Syrian children to middle-class London, the intended effect was shocking viewers out of complacency, summarised in the stark tag: “Just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening”.

Two years on and we know that while conditions have changed for Syria’s children, this doesn’t mean they have improved. While the refugee crisis continues in Europe, becoming a political football and prompting countless reactionary think pieces, Save The Children has released a follow-up to its original ad. Once again looking to refocus attention on the human core of the issue, ‘Still The Most Shocking Second A Day Video’ jumps forward in time to see where conflict lands our young protagonist, and what she must risk to reach an uncertain safety.

The new spot once again stars Lily-Rose Aslandogdu, and her frightened, innocent expression leads the viewer through her increasingly unstable world. As the video’s alternate Britain dissolves into further violence, her parents sell everything they own to buy her a risky passage across the Channel. Once again, the direction puts us immediately into the action, facing Lily-Rose as she encounters guerrilla fighters, horrifying conditions and public loathing in her host country. It’s a sobering and personal vision of an experience which we find discussed in abstract far too much, and grounds a grand political issue in an utterly personal viewpoint.

Though the style will be very familiar to viewers, the creative team has changed somewhat, with Tom Green standing in for previous director Martin Stirling. The ad is no less affecting, however, and has clearly benefited from a boosted budget, featuring far more complex set pieces than the previous instalment.

While bombast and spectacle is certainly not the point of these campaigns, this level of production value nonetheless adds to the sense of horror, particularly in the Channel-crossing sequence.

It was certainly a challenge creating a fitting sequel to one of the most popular non-profit ads of all time, not to mention one which addresses the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. While ‘Still The Most Shocking Second A Day Video’ is essentially more of the same, the spot does exactly what it intends and will no doubt spread like wildfire across social media platforms. While the ad is certainly not an easy watch, hopefully Save The Children’s latest spot will do as its last did – bringing attention back to the people who need help most.