Starting a Conversation

Starting a Conversation

Journalist David France had tremendous success with his first documentary, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, the story of the origins of the AIDS activist movement in New York and the work of ACT UP and its offshoot, the Treatment Action Group (TAG). That film was made, in part, because of the amazing archival footage France was uncovering while researching a book on the same topic.

When the book David France was writing was eventually published – four years later – he looked to Aggregate for help in generating word of mouth to encourage sales. Aggregate worked in partnership with France’s publisher (Knopf) to produce and socialize a series of iPhone camera videos of people – such as actors Jeffrey Wright and Alan Cumming and activist Peter Staley.

In the weeks and months following the 2016 Presidential election, we actively engaged in the online conversation about the resistance to the new administration, positioning HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE as a blueprint for creating a successful effort to pressure the government to change its policies.

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Inspiring Stakeholders

Inspiring Stakeholders

The Vera Institute of Justice was throwing their annual fundraising gala and wanted to produce a video for the event. We noted that previous videos focused on the issue, versus the staff of Vera who come to work every day because of their passion and commitment to reducing mass incarceration. We wanted gala attendees to feel good about the people behind the organization in which they were investing. So we asked the staff to tell us about their dreams—both those that came to them while they were sleeping as well as their dreams for what the world could look like as a result of their work. “The unifying feature of people who work at Vera is that they’re hopeful; they believe that we can change things.”

The video was co-directed by our Creative Director, David Wilson, and Kristi Jacobson, who recently directed SOLITARY, an unprecedented portrait of life inside a supermax prison.

We are please to continue to work with Vera, including a community-based storytelling project to share the outcomes of research conducted by their New Orleans office regarding the impact of the court fines and fees system in that city.

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Connecting Science to the Street

Connecting Science to the Street

The Cure Violence model gained national prominence as the topic of Steve James’ powerful documentary, THE INTERRUPTERS. But what makes the model truly disruptive—founder Gary Slutkin’s approach to treat violence as a communicable disease—was not as well known. The client asked us to produce a video that would “connect the science to the street.” Using an observational documentary approach and animated graphics, we produced a video that highlighted the theory and science that serves as the foundation for Cure Violence and supplemented it with testimony from those who can confidently say it works: policy makers, ER doctors, the police, independent evaluators, community members, and the “interrupters” themselves.

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Producing Events

Producing Events

Aggregate produced a convening to highlight the types of ideas the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeks to fund, and to expose how proposal reviewers assess ideas. Our work truly was “soup to nuts”—from conducting the outreach to encourage submissions to reviewing submissions to managing the run of show to producing the video about the event. The foundation received more than 500 submissions in three weeks, increased the size and reach of its online networks, and generated earned media. Most importantly, Pitch Day resulted in new relationships and grant making opportunities for the foundation.

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Visualizing Data

Visualizing Data

When it comes to our bodies, data abounds. Unfortunately, the availability of data and the ability to use it to make effective decisions are not the same thing. More often than not, the information we receive about our health is difficult to understand and, as a result, nearly impossible to act on. Through Visualizing Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Michigan partnered to explore and share best practices for visualizing data to communicate health and risk information. Aggregate worked with the foundation to generate online word of mouth about Visualizing Health among those whose work involves communicating health information, as well as among designers, who are and could play a significant role in changing health outcomes. Our efforts to generate word of mouth included producing a video about the project.

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Producing a Podcast

Producing a Podcast

Aggregate helped the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launch their first podcast series to share information about new grants and grant milestones, insight regarding new areas of potential funding, and more. The goal of the podcast is to be transparent about the foundation’s work and approach and to increase the strategic value of the ideas that are shared with them for potential funding. Inside Philanthropy praised the podcast for “showcasing the work of grantees while also exploring the opportunities for synergy within RWJF’s orbit. Smart stuff.” Thanks for the kind words.

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