Hidden-Camera Video With Freezing Child Is a Whole Lot Warmer Than Most Ad Stunts

Would you help this boy?

If you saw a boy without a coat shivering alone at a bus stop, would you ask if he needed help? Would you lend him your gloves, scarf or jacket?

Commuters do just that for 11-year-old Johannes in this hidden-camera video from SOS Children's Villages Norway, which is seeking to raise awareness and funds to help Syrian children in need. "The goal was to touch upon the fear of becoming numb to crises that don't affect you directly," SOS rep Synne Rønning tells AdFreak.

In the film, shot over several hours on two freezing days in Oslo, the young actor tells adults that his jacket was stolen during a school trip to the city. "We were touched by the many people that got involved, and risked getting cold so Johannes could stay warm," says Rønning, adding that only three of the 25 or so people who shared the bus stop with him didn't try to help.

Indeed, it's moving to see commuters give him their coats and mufflers, especially when it leaves them in short sleeves on a winter day. "We were quite surprised as to what extent people would try to help the boy in trouble," says Rønning. "The campaign has worked as an eye opener—people who watch the campaign ask themselves: What would I do?"

The video, produced by Släger Kommunikasjon and Pure Content, doesn't explicitly address one significant issue—that you're more likely to help someone right in front of you than someone far away whose pain is more abstract. But it does memorably imply that really shouldn't matter.

Plus, it exudes genuine warmth, and that's something sorely missing from most over-the-top hidden-camera ad stunts.

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.