Osocio NL

In Changing Faces’ “Leo”, the joke’s on you

Posted by Claire | 29-04-2012 23:42 | Category: Discrimination

This short film for Changing Faces was shown in 750 Odeon cinemas across the UK in April. Fans of Downton Abbey will recognize actress Michelle Dockery. Burn victim Leo Gormley plays the title character “Leo”.


Click “read more” to see the video. How did you feel after watching this spot?

With the dramatic editing, tight close-ups and score for this short film, any man sitting in that car would appear to be a villain ... Regardless of appearance. I don’t feel the smug tagline at the end provokes sympathy, rather, it makes the viewer feel tricked. “The joke is on you, we caught you being intolerant!”

Does using condescension engage an audience’s compassion? Compare to this 2008 spot featuring Changing Faces supporter Debbie.


This one puts the audience in the place of a person with a facial difference. It’s much easier to be aware of your own behaviour after watching Debbie’s experience than it is after watching Leo. Debbie’s story reminds me that people with facial differences live their lives as anybody else does. Leo’s film won’t stop me being suspicious of men in trenchcoats during dark and stormy nights.

Accompanying “Leo” is a campaign asking the entertainment industry to stop portraying people with facial differences as evil on screen. The petition notes: “Film makers frequently use prosthetic facial scars, burns and distorted features to indicate that a character is villainous or morally depraved”.

This is true, however, in “Leo” it’s the atmosphere, not the individual’s appearance, that creates the scary scenario for the audience. Mama Hope’s “Stop the Pity” film uses humour and a round-up of movie clips to show how Hollywood negatively portrays African men as “men with machine guns”. It invites viewers to join in with the students and laugh at Hollywood’s absurdity, without insulting the audience. Perhaps an equally enlightening clip show would work for this campaign as well?

Changing Faces
DDB London
Additional credits:
Director: Jim Weedon
Creativity Online

My comment


Your comment will not be visible until a moderator approves it.

Some rights reserved 2005-2013 Osocio/Houtlust.
Disclaimer. Terms of use. Privacy statement.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Support us

Do you like our blog? Support us with a donation.
We're non-commercial. We all make Osocio pro bono in our spare time and we can use some support.

image of a graduation cap

Recent in Academy

Branding a time-bound campaign, Forest & Bird did it.

It’s not new but it is not often used: branding for a time-bound campaign. The kind of branding used for temporary purpose. Forest & Bird did it recently for their Love Nature: Vote 2014 campaign. New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation wanted nature back on the political agenda. The future…
Read more

Can fundraising marketers recreate the #icebucketchallenge?

Yesterday, it finally happened. Somebody challenged me to the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. If your internet connection has been broken all summer, it’s this year’s big meme. You can read about it here. To be honest, I felt that the movement had passed its high-water mark when I saw…
Read more

About Osocio

Osocio is dedicated to social advertising and non-profit campaigns. It’s the place where marketing and activism collide. Formerly known as the Houtlust Blog, Osocio is the central online hub for advertisers, ad agencies, grassroots, activists, social entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans from around the globe.
Read more

(the about page is also available in Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese 汉语/漢語, Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano, Nihongo 日本語, Ivrit עברית, Filipino, Polski, Português, Russian Русский язык, Slovenčina, Suomi, Svenska and Türkçe)