Video and Social Tie-Ins Boost ’Lazarus Effect’ Film

(RED), the organization that has helped consumers generate $140 million to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, is partway through a multimedia campaign to promote its documentary, “The Lazarus Effect.”

The campaign includes a PSA, a live-streamed red carpet event, and suggested Facebook status updates and tweets that are intended to draw attention to the film as well as the impact of its programs in Africa.

The Lazarus Effect aired on HBO on Monday at 9pm EST and it was available on YouTube shortly thereafter, where it had since been viewed more than 190,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon. It was directed by Lance Bangs and executive-produced by Spike Jonze. It focuses on four people in Zambia and documents the effects of antiretroviral drugs.

(RED)’s director of digital marketing and strategy, Chrysi Philalithes, says the organization has been working on the documentary since 2007. It was filmed last year. The film’s name refers to the transformation that takes place in as little as 40 days when a person with HIV/AIDS has access to antiretroviral medication.

“It costs literally around 40 cents a day in Africa (for this medication). And people can go from being very frail – on death’s door – to leading healthy, productive lives,” Philalithes says.

“40 Cents” is the theme of the PSA featuring many celebrities such as Don Cheadle, Bono, Hugh Jackman, Penelope Cruz, Iman, Gwen Stefani, Gabourey Sidibe, and the rapper Common. The PSA has racked up about 130,000 views on YouTube.

Another component of (RED)’s multimedia promotion strategy includes a live-streamed red carpet event at a screening at MoMA in New York on May 4. In it, fans on social networks could submit questions. Extra TV host Tanika Ray interviewed celebrities live from the red carpet.

Philalithes declined to provide specific figures for the number of people who tuned in to the stream, but said it exceeded (RED)’s target by 50 percent.

In addition, (RED) is also asking its nearly 550,000 Facebook fans and its 1 million Twitter followers to show their support by spreading the word with several suggested status updates and/or the “#lazaruseffect” hashtag. Suggested updates are as simple as, “I like #lazaruseffect,” and “I SHA(RED) #lazaruseffect. Show your support for (RED) and share.”

Additionally, (RED) tapped ad network VideoEgg to promote the PSA on external sites like Salon, Buzznet, LA Times, Elle Magazine, redOrbit and ABC News.

Troy Young, president of VideoEgg, said the ad units have additional functionality like “send to mobile” and “tweet within ad unit.”

Along with this promotion, VideoEgg is launching a campaign it calls, “Action Starts with Attention,” to demonstrate how people are interacting with the ads. Part (RED) call-to-action and part sales pitch for VideoEgg, Young describes it as like the debt clock “with a counter that shows you a growing number of seconds of attention.” The dashboard will be up for two weeks after the documentary airs.

VideoEgg and (RED) previously worked together to promote the (RED)Nights music festival. According to VideoEgg, the previous campaign – which ran from November 6 to 20 – resulted in 10.5 million unique impressions and more than 95,000 engagements.

“For us, the whole Lazarus Effect campaign is to reach as many people as possible to get this message out there,” Philalithes says. “Social media is a natural fit.”

Some of (RED)’s U.S. partners include Apple, Bugaboo, Converse, Gap, Emporio Armani, Hallmark, Dell, Nike and Starbucks.

Related reading