US Aid changing image

In this blog I want to look at two different US Aid videos. The first one is their 50 years of progress video and the second celebrates 60 years of help and hope. They are only 2 minutes each so take 4 minutes and watch them and then get back here…



These two adverts are made only three years apart and are both playing on the American audience sense of nationalism. It is a theme often used in adverts both political and commercial but even more so when it comes to charitable giving. The maker wants the audience to feel that it is their patriotic duty to give.

Looking at the fist advert from 2011 we hear US Presidents current and past talking about human rights, what has been done and what still needs doing. We see images of people in need mostly pictured in poverty. There are a few images showing children in school and with food, but the majority of images are of people who still need the viewers help. This is very much a typical message from a large development organization in the global north that is looking for donations. It plays on the viewer’s guilt as well as desire to help. The recipient is depicted as unable to help themselves.

Just a few years later and we see some real change. In the second video we see the history of US Aid through their bag, “a symbol of hope”. We find out that it started as a bag of US grown grain after the First World War and has now grown with the use of technology. US Aid explains how their organization has moved towards locally produced food to feed the hungry in the global south, maybe showing that they are environmental conscious as well as supporting local economies. They portray the fact that the global south is using technology (just like us) and that US aid is now using cell phones and debit cards in addition to their famous bag drops. The people in need are no longer unable to help themselves but things beyond their control has put them in a situation where they need the viewers help. Thins such as war or natural disasters.

The advert from 2014 shows a very different picture of aid from the 2011 advert. The 2011 advert ends with three lines that is supposed to make us all feel the same: we all breath the same air, we all care for our children and we are all mortal. The 2014 advert shows the needy as tech savvy people with dignity, people just like us.

Food for peace (2014)

Making 50 years of progress (2011)

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