World-Building in Animation Yields Powerful Impact for Social Causes
LOBO’s Guillherme Marcondes on how animation harnesses the power to unite global audiences for social good
In my experience working for non-profits and social impact-driven brands, increasing awareness for their cause and reaching as wide a demographic as possible is always a top goal. But these organizations and companies have one big issue to tackle first: reaching a global audience in a meaningful manner. This means taking into account the drastically different social, economic, racial and geographic backgrounds of their various audiences, and unifying these diverse perspectives to create something that will resonate with as many viewers as possible.
To match the wide-spanning needs of non-profits and social impact brands, creative marketing solutions call for a relatable narrative that allows people to see themselves in the story. The art of animation – which in its transcendental nature connects with viewers of broad ranges of backgrounds – fits the bill when it comes to reaching a potentially global viewership. Animation has the power to break through specific limitations live action campaigns often face by allowing characters to take on more symbolic meanings, which helps prevent implicit biases from limiting the message.
With the ability to create abstract characters that allow viewers to engage their own imagination, filmmakers can craft stories that let audiences of a wider range of cultural experiences engage with the content. For animated stories driven by social impact, the archetypal nature of the characters and scenarios allows viewers to take on a more inclusive perspective, opening their eyes and minds to the underlying message. Ideally, when done effectively, this sparks true empathy that can ultimately lead to action and lasting impact.
Animation helps creatives tackle abstract concepts, allowing viewers to absorb nuanced emotions or experiences that are otherwise difficult to express with words. The throughline between the story and the core message at hand becomes more direct. This process allows complex messages or difficult concepts to be delivered using an emotional tactic, without overwhelming viewers with too much detail. When a social-impact organization or brand approaches my creative studio LOBO with a cause to share, we return with a plan to help their audience understand the cause from the POV of an animated character. I’ve worked on animations for medical research, autism advocacy, vaccine awareness and more, and find that even with big, sometimes emotional agendas, spectacular visuals draw in the viewer’s focus enough for the message to achieve maximum effect.
These are, after all, sensitive projects. I encourage our social-good clients to refrain from producing a ‘corporate’ video or a stiff PSA segment – those are too distant for the deeply-personal topics that they’re covering. Instead, it’s key to look to animation as a tool to open the door to a world of possibility where characters and concepts come alive and move swiftly between fantastical and realistic environments. This is where artistry comes into play. Together our team of directors and artists work together to craft one-of-a-kind visual worlds that affect viewers.
The production process for social-impact campaigns differs from traditional advertising, with a heightened importance on the script in the early developmental process. Where much conventional advertising has a large focus on production value and timeliness, these projects also call for an intuitive depth to hone in on the most affecting aspects of the storyline and script. This process allows me to collaborate with clients to ensure that the characters, artwork, and storyline fall in line with the intended message of the organisation. This type of challenge is a dream for an animation studio, as directors and artists are given much more room to flex creative muscles in this highly collaborative process, which functions more like television development than the conception of a typical advertising campaign.
While being in position to create animation of any kind is truly a privilege, there is a unique creative invigoration that comes from the collaborative process of crafting a meaningful story for a social cause. Getting to work with nonprofits and social causes is not only rewarding for our entire team, but it often rejuvenates our creative process. Creating work that has the power to spark real change – and not just sell a product – makes us better people and artists.
Guillherme Marcondes is creative director at LOBO
See the original piece on Little Black Book here.