The Girl Effect

This intro video for The Girl Effect shows just how powerful concise writing and simple animation can be. It was created for agency W&K Portland and Nike by manvsmagnet (a.k.a. Matt Smithson) of Curious Pictures, whose background in painting, design and motion graphics are all at subtle work here. The variation in framing and layout, the pacing, the slightly mottled shades of white and gray, the decision to animate only a very few elements (but in clever ways)—all speak of a maturity and restraint that I find refreshing.

This is a study in visual perception and cognition as much as it is a study of design. I love that many words are on screen for only a fraction of a second, and yet they are entirely readable. Watching this feels like an internal monologue is being beamed into my head. It’s a pretty compelling experience.

EDIT: I omitted a sentence in the first paragraph after realizing it was unnecessary.

W+K Portland
Executive Creative Directors Jelly Helm and Steve Luker
Creative Directors Tyler Whisnand
Copywriter Jessica Vacek
Art Director Julia Blackburn
Interactive Art Director Paul Bjork
Interactive Producer Jeremy Lind
Content Producer (Broadcast) Melanie Fedunok
Content Producer (Art Buying) Krystle Mortimore
Interactive Studio Artist Rebecca Kading
Design & Development Grow Interactive

Production Company (main video) Curious Pictures
Director manvsmagnet
Head of Production John Cline
Executive Producer Mary Knox
Producer Nathan Jew
Creator Matt Atkins
Audio Post-Prod. company Elias Arts

Production Company (vignettes) Joint Editorial
Producer Melanie Fedunok
Editor Peter Wiedensmith and Katie Turinski
Post-Production company Joint Editorial

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



This is pretty beautiful… I love how the dot ends up being worked into the ending. It’s simple and compelling…

Trent Armstrong

Amazing what “simple” can do.


What happened to the Baby that was dragging her down? It was just taken away?


This is really great. I especially like the timing through the first 30s.


why can’t it be a guy?


It needs to be a girl because, even here in the US, women still struggle for equal opportunity. In countries less fortunate, like the ones they are talking about, it’s much worse. This is a message of hope and equality and I strongly commend it.

Lately, pieces like this and the one Shilo did for Burma are really grabbing my attention


solid, beautiful work! matt is the shiznickle.


This is great. Nice work, Matt.


any relation with this?


Hey! MoGraph can do more than push products! I agree with Anthony’s sentiments, and look forward to more pieces like this.


ok, but why can’t just Nike pay the fair amount of money to its exploited girls workers in those countries, instead of having to “repair” the damage afterwards with these self-celebrative campaigns? bad, nike, bad.


equal opportunity… okay… but to me this video want to tell me that girls are better people than boys? sorry. i really don’t get the message.

okay. i check the site:

“A woman or girl will reinvest 90% of her income into her family. A man will reinvest 30-40%”


but this is just wrong. I study sociology and psychology and i can told you that girls are not better than men if they got the same rights as men.

And i will never say that men are better than wemon. but i will also never say that wemon are better that men. that’s exactly what the men are doing right now. the men say: we earn more, we are better… and now the wemon say: no, look at this… blab blah blah.

it’s just stupid.


If you want to make a valid point… proper spelling and proper grammar usually help.


yeah, those evil wemon…


i can’t see why it should be ok to change history by the exploitation of cows. why doesn’t she sell her own milk? i’m being serious.

ann kruetzkamp

This piece is absolutely beautiful. I have a pretty short attention span so if someone askes me to read something in motion graphics and there’s no voiceover that I can use as a mental crutch I tent to loose interest. However, this piece held me captive from beginning to end. So many times as designers we tend to just throw it all in there- 3d stoke and all, yet, this was elegant and interesting. Though the message is a little far reaching and lofty I think it’s an idea that the world could use right now. Certainly couldn’t hurt to give it a try. Thank you for posting it!


Whilst it was nicely put together, I don’t think it wasn’t as effective as it could have been. I couldn’t help thinking as I watched it ‘Are they saying that girls are better than boys? On what basis do they believe girls buy cows and the boys don’t?’

If you go and read the background info, then the video becomes a lot clearer and makes sense – but to someone who watches it ‘cold’, the message isn’t crisp.

As a comparison, I thought the Sarah McLachlan music video, ‘World On Fire’ was very effective.

Ed Brown

It is a nice spot (geddit), i noticed a few visual tricks that were clever – I say clever, the whole thing’s so minimal it’s practically non-existent.


The opening few sentences talk about the whole world – promising the ‘Girl’ effect as the solution to the whole world’s problems (note how the word WAR was highlighted). Then the piece goes on to discuss very specifically the problems facing Third World Africa, not the whole world. That would exclude South-East Asia, where an army of children work harder than me for about 2000% less than my day rate.

I have to swallow the bitter pill that motion graphics is the realm of huge corporate identity, and these clients fund the very best in our industry, but I cannot ignore hypocrisy like this.

Do NIKE want to downplay their use of Third World labour so much that now they’re patronising me about how to help the girls they’re fucking over?

richard grant

if she sells enough cows she might be able to afford some nike products. kids, it’s capitalism masked as humanity, nice graphics though and thats all we care about.


I was thinking the same thing. Why did they have to go in an put a capitalist slant on it. Oh, right, Nike. I forgot.

We’re not going to equate you with the girl Nike.


What if this WERE a world that knew how to use subjunctive mood properly? (if there WAS is soooo wrong) I can’t believe things like this can be printed. It cheapens the whole piece and I don’t understand this phenomenon that has swept the English speaking world.


I’m no grammar snob myself, but that has bothered me recently too. I always think back to the song, “If I were an oscar meyer weiner…” when I hear “was” -j

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