Two years of work came to fruition this February for our July/August 2011 cover subject, Matt Damon, and the charity he cofounded, Water.org ("Matt Damon and His Global War for Water"). That's when he launched StrikeWithMe, a massive public service announcement masquerading as a series of humor videos on YouTube. The premise: Damon will not go to the bathroom until the worldwide water crisis is solved; hilarity ensues. "It's experimental," says Mike McCamon, Water.org's chief community officer. "We could spend $5 million-plus for a spot in the Super Bowl, or we could spend mid-five figures to access an audience of the same size." Damon himself appeared in the campaign's first eight videos, which were written and produced by established YouTube creators (combined subscriber count: more than 10 million), with input from Water.org, and filmed at YouTube Space L.A. Two days after going live, the first five videos had been viewed more than half a million times. The writers had total creative freedom, save for one stipulation. Says McCamon, "It had to be clean."
A version of this article appeared in the April 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.