Videos on Facebook and YouTube go viral; it’s what they do. Remember the hilarious skateboarding bulldog a few years ago? To date, 22 million views. Pure joy. Or the cavorting baby goats? Nearly seven million views.
Videos with a message, not so much, unless, perhaps, the PSA is edgy or grisly. What comes first to mind is the blood-soaked “OMG L@@K OUT!” That one, which you’d think was directed by Quentin Tarantino, takes an unflinching look at the bloody results of texting and driving. After its release, five million views.
Now, there’s “Josh’s List”—neither funny nor grisly, but appealing and heart-warming—and within only 15 days, more than 10.3 million views across two Facebook versions, and more 181,000 shares.
Those are extraordinary numbers, especially when one considers that the PSA, released by UNOS, is its first national PSA in more than 20 years … and some of the talent and production were donated by people and agencies that simply believe in UNOS’ cause.
The unique take in “Josh’s List” is appealing, heartwarming―and persuasive. The storyline, inspired by true events, was conceived by Australian writer, director and cinematographer Damien Toogood. He pitched the idea to UNOS awhile back, but UNOS had no funds for the project, so the idea was put on hold until last year.
The storyline of the PSA involves the heart recipient of organ donor Josh. In gratitude and to honor his donor, the recipient decides to fulfill Josh’s “bucket list,” which includes, among other things, getting a Mohawk, going hiking and taking a road trip. In a series of vignettes, the viewer watches as the recipient completes the list.
At the PSA’s end, we see the recipient stooping over, painting a white picket fence. With that, he’s fulfilling Josh’s final bucket-list item― “do more for Mom.” And, in the final scene, Josh’s mom emerges from her house, lovingly greets the recipient, and gently puts her head on his chest, listening to her son’s heart beat inside the recipient’s body.
“UNOS is thrilled with the viral results of our PSA campaign,” director of communications Mike Pressendo said. “The goal of ‘Josh’s List’ is to build awareness of and trust in the nation’s transplant system and to inspire people to support organ donation.
“We owe much of the success of the campaign to the generous contributions of time, talent and resources from across the globe, including filmmaker and writer Damien Toogood, the band Metric and the team at Publicis New York,” Pressendo added.
As Toogood posted on Facebook, “The saying in advertising is, ‘Well, it’s not like we are saving lives.’ I’m hoping that this spot is the exception.”
At this point, all indications are that it is. Watch it now.