Using animation to tackle the tough issues

Date: 15/11/2021 Written by: Jake 15 minutes to read.

Are you a fan of Dr Pimple Popper? Despite its popularity, I think it is fair to say that it can make uncomfortable viewing for a few of us. Video content is amazing. But real footage isn’t always appropriate. Real-life, up-close footage can make a few of us quite queasy... or turn us off completely, which is why sometimes a different format is recommended for communicating tough topics and sensitive issues.  

Why use animation?

If you are working on a campaign that includes any kind of video content, ask yourself the following questions before you begin:

If your answer is yes to any of these questions then it might be best to start thinking about utilising animation. In our opinion, there are four reasons why animation is perfect to tackle the tough topics.

Reason 1 - Communicating the hard stuff

Animation removes the human element which in turns removes the potential hilarious, awkward, grotesque or taboo nature of the subject.

Think about how often gory and inappropriate adult animation shows can be. If they made a live-action remake of Family Guy, it would be cancelled faster than you can say “Rated 18”.

Reason 2 - Increasing campaign awareness

The idea of a campaign video is to get the campaign exposure. If your live action STI video is brought up over food, then the film will most likely be changed swiftly. If your live action sex education video is shown to young children, they’ll most likely be distracted by giggling a little too hard.

Animation has the ability to communicate subjects effectively that would otherwise be too tricky to communicate. It also has the ability to represent a huge diversity of job roles, nationalities, genders etc. without the need of going on a mass hiring spree.

Reason 3 - Reaching the right people

For the past two years we’ve worked on the #JustTalk campaign for Hertfordshire County Council. Each year we’ve produced an animation film that had been designed by the winner of a competition open to young people across the county.

The reason why these animations are incredible is because they’re about mental health within young people. Now imagine a young child is browsing social media or if the film came on in the classroom. Are they more likely to stop and watch a live action video or a cartoon-esque animation? The answer is most likely the cartoon because they associate cartoons with enjoyment.

Reason 4 – A logistical heaven in comparison

If we look at the ‘tough issues’ from a purely logistical point of view, then if your video is looking to represent a diverse range of people, then good luck trying to track down all the participants for your live film.

Animation on the other hand requires a bit of background knowledge, an artist and an animator to incorporate a new character. I make it sound like a piece of cake, but in comparison to a live film – it really is!

How do I get started on getting an animation?

It’s so simple. The only bits of information we need to start the process are your goal, your audience, and your method of delivery.

From there we can start bouncing ideas around and once we've got one nailed down, get right down into pre-production!

But isn’t animation expensive?

It can be very easy to get carried away with the animation ideas. Why? Because you’re not bound down by real life restrictions. If you want aliens dancing on an Egyptian pyramid – sure why not. But you’ll need to make a miracle happen if you want to recreate that in a live film scenario.

It’s in this case that animation can get very expensive. But we’ve been creating films for a while now and here are the 3 golden rules we swear by:

1. Never waste a second of screen time

2. Make sure every scene and line progress towards the animations objectives

3. Prioritise the message over fancy aesthetics

If everyone who is part of the project keeps these rules in mind, then the end product will be focused, concise and within budget.

You might also like

We create meaningful digital products that connect with people and make positive change possible.

Home of the changemakers.

We just need a bit more info

* indicates required

Marketing Permissions

Social Change will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

Marketing preferences

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Project Planner