Today at at SXSW Interactive 2016 in Austin, Texas, venerable ad agency J. Walter Thompson Worldwide unveiled the global launch of its “Donate the Bars” project, which turns the black bars appearing on either side of vertical videos on YouTube into free ad space for charities.
Working with partners Mashable House, GoodAmplified and Studio 71, J. Walter Thompson has enlisted popular YouTube creators Matt Santoro, Cody Simpson, Alli Simpson and Monica Church to participate “Donate the Bars.”
The YouTubers will create their own videos, upload them through donatethebars.com, and donate their bars to one of the participating organizations, which include Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, Teen Cancer America, Challenged Athletes Foundation, We Are Safe, Good Deeds Day, GiveTheKidsArts.org, UICC Global Cancer Control, Joyful Heart Foundation and No More.
The campaign takes advantage of the fact that one in six videos uploaded to YouTube don’t conform to the platform’s 16:9 aspect ratio, leaving black bars on either side of the image. J. Walter Thompson previously mounted a “Donate the Bars” the campaign in Brazil in Oct. 2015.
“There are so many organizations in our network with real, world-changing missions, but the reality is many can’t afford the ad space they need to raise awareness,” said Amber J. Lawson, Founder/CEO of GoodAmplified, in a statement. “Donate the Bars gives nonprofits a chance to connect with audiences that consume digital content every day, and to succeed in a day and age when everyone is competing for eyeballs, nonprofits need to get creative and maximize the power of video on YouTube.”
A “Donate the Bars” photo booth will at the Mashable House’s interactive lounge at SXSW Interactive, giving festival-goers the opportunity to record their own videos and donate their bars to a non-profit.