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Donate the Bars turns vertical video blank space into charity promotions

Black Bars Donation logo

The empty black spaces on either side of vertically-shot videos are being used to feature adverts for charities. Donate the Bars is encouraging the public to upload vertical videos and share the space either side to benefit good causes.

Vertical videos might make sense when taking them on a mobile phone, but they look pretty odd when viewed in landscape mode on other screens, with large black ‘bars’ or spaces on either side.

But that hasn’t stopped J Walter Thompson in Brazil from grasping them as an opportunity to benefit charities. Think of all those millions of videos with plenty of blank space either side.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

It has teamed up with nine nonprofits so far, including Challenged Athletes Foundation, Safe, Teen Cancer America, and Bob Woodruff Foundation, to provide them with space in these black bars.

J Walter Thompson’s Donate the Bars campaign invites visitors to join in:

“Odds are, someone’s probably told you that you shouldn’t film vertically. The good news? They’re wrong. We encourage you not to change, because when you don’t change the way you film, you can help change the world in a smart way”.

Donate the Bars
Donate the Bars

The agency has now extended the Donate the Bars campaign internationally, announcing this at SXSW in Texas, in partnership with Mashable, Studio71, andYouTube multi-channel network Good Amplified. Other charities and NGOs are invited to take part too.

Donate the Bars is working with a number of high-profile YouTubers.

What does it look like?

Here is one example from the JWT video:

Example charity advertising in the black bars of a vertical video. From JWT video.


Say no to vertical videos?

If you wonder why vertical videos are, until now, not a good idea, watch this:

But with one in six videos uploaded to YouTube appearing in vertical format, it might be time to put aesthetics aside and join the Donate the Bars campaign.