Friday, February 27, 2009

Smile Pinki

As I've written before in Slumdog The Latest in $100 Million Cause Campaigns Called Movies, the movie industry has a rich history of telling stories that inspire and incite change. Well there was a lesser-known film based on real-world events from India that won an Oscar besides Slumdog Millionaire. Taking home Best Documentary Short was Smile Pinki which tells the story of "Pinki, a girl in rural India whose cleft lip has made her a social outcast...but has a chance for a new life when she meets a dedicated social worker."

The non-profit organization behind this social work is SmileTrain, a charity solely focused on cleft lip and palette in developing countries. You've probably seen their ads in newspapers including The New York Times for which the paper calls " of the most productive charities -dollar for deed- in the world." For 10 years now they've provided simple 45-minute surgery that provides "a desperate child not just a new smile, but a second chance at life" – and a $250 donation covers all costs.

The org does a masterful job at marketing the cause. While there are certainly celebrity endorsers like most NPOs these days, the ads focus on the heart-wrenching "before" pictures of these precious children. It's one of the simplest and most effective ways to promote the need for change.

As a documentary, the filmmakers were certainly more able to address the related social issue head-on than say Slumdog. SmileTrain was even mentioned by name in the acceptance speech. And in return, the cause has smartly leveraged the Oscar win in it's newest ads. It remains a collaborative effort to use storytelling in all its forms, film and advertising, to advocate for change.

By the way you can donate to SmileTrain online.


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