Spotlight: Using Online Video

Video is one of the most effective ways of telling stories in the digital age. This was certainly true of the online effort during the marriage equality referendum campaign.

Short-form, shareable, engaging video is fast becoming the primary means of communicating with digital native audiences. Yes Equality aimed to reach this audience with compelling content that they would share with their friends and families. Social media was a crucial platform for distributing Yes Equality video content. Not only did the campaign create videos that promoted key messages and inspired supporters to share, it also created content that encouraged supporters to take action and get involved in the campaign, such as “Canvassing with Yes Equality”. Audiences were kept up to date on campaign information with daily vlogs from co-director Grainne Healy, who also described how people could do their part in the final weeks of the campaign.

Targeted Facebook ad campaigns ensured that video content was placed before key audiences, which helped amplify wider narratives that Yes Equality was promoting. Videos were targeted to audiences based on demographics such as age, location and interests. The campaign also aimed for cross-media coverage of video content. Videos which had a strong narrative and promoted key messages were pitched to mainstream media to achieve maximise exposure.

For Yes Equality, message delivery was as important as the message, so distribution of video content was crucial. When new content was being released, aimed at meeting strategic objectives, the campaign asked key influencers in advance for support in the online debate. When this worked best, it helped create a buzz, achieve maximum share of voice and reach wider audiences. The influencers were given briefings and updates from Yes Equality leaders, along with resources to support the campaign and remain on-message.

Yes Equality also benefited from other campaigns and organisations who were producing and promoting online video content advocating for a Yes vote on May 22nd. One such group was Vote With Us, an online video campaign started by three friends from Dublin who wanted to create a format and platform where people could share why they were voting Yes and ask others to do the same. Vote With Us believed that “sharing hopeful, honest, and personal perspectives is the best way to engage Irish voters in the run-up to the referendum on marriage equality being held on Friday, May 22nd”. Their hope was to give voters many more reasons to vote in favour of equal marriage, and that each video would offer a unique reason to vote Yes.

As well as inviting audiences to watch these videos, Vote With Us encouraged viewers to contribute their own video outlining their reasons to vote Yes in the referendum. They provided help and advice with making videos, which users then submitted for Vote With Us to promote. The Vote With Us campaign was an excellent example of using online effort to encourage others to take action.

Perhaps the most powerful contribution came from Brighid and Paddy, a couple from Dundalk, Co. Louth, who were married for 50 years, are practising Catholics, and wanted to spread the message that the most Christian thing to do was to vote Yes. They said everyone should “have the opportunity to experience the love, protection and companionship we have experienced”. In making their appeal, the couple explained how they fought hard for civil rights in Northern Ireland in the 1960s, and now they believed it was the time to support civil rights in the South. Brighid and Paddy instantly became viral stars, their story being covered in national and international media. They were invited to a marriage equality rally hosted by Amnesty International Ireland, where they appeared on stage.

Watch Brighid and Paddy’s video below, and view the full Vote With Us archive here.

Selected videos from the Yes campaign

Canvassing with Yes Equality

The Yes Equality campaign knew that canvassing would be key to success, as it is one of the most effective ways to engage with people, hear their issues and win them over. We needed to run a nationwide canvassing operation the likes of which had not been seen before, and that required large numbers of people to join and canvass with their local Yes Equality groups. While canvassing can be rewarding, it can also be daunting and challenging, especially when it is on an issue that is very personal.

In an effort to overcome apprehension and address any concerns people might have, Yes Equality produced a video in which Mark, a supporter of marriage equality, shared his experience of canvassing with Yes Equality in the lead-up to the referendum.


While many supporters were fortunate enough to be able to travel #HomeToVote, countless Irish emigrants living in countries around the globe could not do the same. #BeMyYes was an online campaign to give voice to those Irish abroad who could not vote in the referendum, but who encouraged others to make sure they used their vote – to be the voice of those who would not be heard.

Bring Your Family With You

A host of Irish TV, movie and music stars joined forces with BeLonG To, the national organisation for LGBT young people, to produce an online video advertisement calling for a Yes vote. Set in a rural village in Ireland, the video features young people, parents, grandparents and friends encouraging and supporting each other to vote Yes.

Just Say Yes on May 22nd

Yes Equality secured permission to use Snow Patrol’s hit “Just Say Yes” as the official song of the campaign. As an anthem it proved a big hit, and frontman Gary Lightbody recorded a special message wishing the campaign well.

Thank You, Snow Patrol

Hurlers for Yes

Cork hurler Conor Cusack, joined by fellow hurlers, spoke about how he should be able to enjoy the same right to marry that they had. Conor eloquently describes how as hurlers they have battled for victory with their teammates – gay and straight. Now, together, they called for a level playing pitch in Irish society.

Mrs Brown for Yes Equality

A video starring Ireland’s “mammy-in-chief” Mrs Agnes Brown, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson, was undoubtedly one of the most popular from the campaign. In the funny yet poignant endorsement, Mrs Brown, played by Brendan O’Carroll, reflects on how Irish society is constantly changing and how she hopes the younger generation will seize “their chance to make a change”.

Useful Guide to Voting in the Referendum

With many of those voting in the referendum doing so for the first time, Yes Equality produced a useful guide to voting which included some do’s and don’ts and information on where to vote, what to bring, and what to do when you arrive at the polling station.

Is this your first time voting? Watch our useful guide to voting in the Referendum on Friday. #VoteYes

Posted by YesEquality on Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Making History

GAZE, Ireland’s largest LGBT film festival, beautifully captured the historic occasion on May 23rd when Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality by popular vote. Intimate, immediate and spontaneous footage shows the unfolding story.