Meet Homeboy Electronics Recycling | The Webby Awards

Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.

Our story finding methods are rooted in journalistic practices to ensure we are telling authentic, real-life stories. - T Brand Studio Team
What’s the elevator pitch for your project?

In 2017 Donnie Holland’s life changed forever. After 20 years in prison and months moving from one dreary job to another in Los Angeles, Holland got a job with Homeboy Recycling helping to pick up old computers, printers and phones to recycle. Homeboy Recycling was founded with the mission of boosting the recycling rates of digital gadgets that often end in the trash, all while creating good jobs for people with employment barriers, like felons and former gang members. Committed to sustainability, HP partners closely with Homeboy Recycling. Our video will shine a light on HP’s commitment to recycling and sustainability through the lens of Donnie’s journey.

What was the impetus for this project? What real-world challenge were you trying to solve?

HP’s brand journalism team and T Brand hosted a story-mining session with HP's sustainability team. We discovered the Homeboy Recycling partnership and immediately sensed this would be an amazing story to bring to life via a short documentary video. HP has a deep commitment to sustainability – to both create less waste and reuse already existing materials for new products. But the best recycling programs have another layer of purpose – they also elevate the community around them and the lives of the workers involved. You can’t find a better example of this than Homeboy Recycling, which helps give previously incarcerated individuals job opportunities, and with that, a deep sense of pride.

 

Did your team have a breakthrough or “a-ha” moment while formulating or executing this project?

Our ah-ha moment was discovering the film’s star, Donnie Holland, who was so open in sharing his story with us. His optimism and pride are contagious, and he continues to inspire us.

Once you settled on your idea, what was your first step in moving it forward?

Once T Brand Studio and HP’s Brand Journalism team received the green light, we started as we always do with storytelling — with deeper investigation. Our story finding methods are rooted in journalistic practices to ensure we are telling authentic, real-life stories. We worked with HP’s Sustainability team and the founder of Homeboy Recycling, Kabira Stokes to ensure we were getting the full picture. Of course, we spoke with Donnie – our main character – to establish a rapport, continue to unravel his story and make sure he was fully involved and aware of the process.

Was there a moment during the project where you ran into a hurdle; or faced a problem you didn’t know how to solve? Take us to this moment, what happened and what did you do next?

In brand journalism / content marketing it’s a delicate balance between telling an authentic story while also championing the brand. We want to leave our audience feeling something and learning something, but of course we also want to spread awareness of the brand. Working in partnership with the HP Sustainability team we originally interviewed several HP execs to infuse more of HP’s commitment. During post, we realized that these moments took the viewer out of the story, disrupting the experience. We had to work with the sustainability team to align on an understanding that in the end removing this HP corporate presence actually benefitted HP in the long run.

Did the real-world impact meet your expectations? Can you share an example?

Our goal was two-fold: First, to put a spotlight on this amazing organization and the work they are doing. Secondly, we wanted inspire the audience to think more about where their electronics go after they become out of date.

This piece was one of our most successful pieces of content on The Garage by HP driving with audiences spending on average 7 minutes, and over 500,000 views. The awareness it brought to Homeboy Recycling and HP’s commitment to sustainability was very impactful.

What technologies/media did you use to develop this project (AI, Social Media, WordPress, etc.)?

We used high-definition cinema cameras to create this authentic documentary-style branded video. The Garage by HP, where the story and video were originally published, is powered by Adobe Experience Manager (the CMS). We posted the video on HP’s YouTube and amplified across HP’s social media channels.

Was the tech/medium you chose crucial to conveying your message? If so, why?

Anytime we are considering a good story to tell, we always think critically about how to tell that story. Here, video was absolutely crucial to conveying the message. In order to show the impact of HP’s partnership with Homeboy Recycling and connect emotionally with the audience through Donnie’s story we needed to show a day in the life of Donnie. His openness was inspiring.

How did this project defy your expectations?

We knew the partnership was unique and that the work Homeboy Recycling was doing was interesting, but we never anticipated the openness and charisma of Donnie. His authentic and dynamic nature is what propelled the story and made it captivating for our viewers.

How will you use technology in future work to create inspiring, cutting-edge projects that also make a difference in people’s lives?

HP’s mission is to make the world better through technology. We are always innovating in the sustainability space and beyond, looking to reinvent uses for technology that can help to positively impact people’s lives. For our part, we will continue to use the power of our storytelling—our cameras, new media, our CMS platform, social media, and digital tools—to not only showcase HP’s purposeful work, but to also spotlight and inspire the actions of others as well.

About the Corporate Social Responsibility category

Video content that promotes a company or organization’s mission to improve civil and social life.