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Innovative Product Placement Makes This Music Video a Vehicle for Good

The #IAM Campaign, harnesses the power of social capital to fund the education of students in developing countries.

Red Coca-Cola cups rest, glistening, on the American Idol judges’ table, and you think to yourself, “Am I thirsty?” What if, instead, your thoughts turned to children in East Africa, hungry for an education?

Product placement is both subliminal and pervasive. Since I believe this lucrative and compelling form of advertising can be used to affect change, I decided to bend the “product placement” model with my latest music video and make “Free Your Mind” a vehicle for good. We're honored and proud to officially release this video today on GOOD.
Amid threat of world-wide recession, the currency of clicks is as strong as ever. Matt Severson, one of my Facebook friends, is president of the global education nonprofit The School Fund. I am a recording artist and songwriter—just one artist whose music lives in Matt’s mobile devices and in his heart.
Our organic partnership, the #IAM Campaign, harnesses the power of social capital to fund the education of students in developing countries. What makes this initiative so special is that, for every view of my “Free Your Mind” music video and download of the song, one hour of class time will be donated to students in East Africa, courtesy of The School Fund’s corporate sponsors. Our goal is to provide 10,000 class hours per month, for six months.
Here’s where the GOOD community comes in. You may have 359 Facebook friends (the global average) and half as many Twitter followers, but post an idea that resonates with just one active user (there’s that number again), and you could land the world’s most coveted role: thought-leader.
Just by clicking “play” or “download,” you are helping a student to one day say, “I AM a doctor,” “I AM an engineer...” Get the picture? Our hope is that the #IAM Campaign shifts the politics of change by innovating the way we use our social media platforms. Not bad for a couple of dreamers brought together by music and education.
Are we breaking the rules by using our platforms to solve the problem of access to education? Perhaps. Do we risk failure? Certainly. But with great risk comes great reward. Any innovator worth their salt will tell you that.
In fact, our plan is already working.
Matt and I have learned that, to make a meaningful, measurable impact, all you need are the right tools—an idea, an outlet, and a network. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Civic Leadership Center discovered us through our friends at the Carmelita Group. We soon found ourselves on stage at the 2012 Citizens Awards introducing the #IAM Campaign to 400 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) executives.
Chegg, our first sponsor, committed their support for 20,000 class hours. The list of companies excited to attach their brand to this cause continues to grow. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have exploded with supportive posts from corporations and customers alike. Our social snowball is turning into an avalanche. Only you can keep it going.
The next time you watch TV and notice the camera not-so-subtly zoom in on your favorite character’s iPhone, think about the need for broadband development in rural America. Or, when your favorite action movie star crashes a Cadillac during a high-speed car chase, think of ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions around the globe. Think and figure out what you can do, because every one of us can do something good.

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