A new “reality feature news show,” ASPIREist, wants to inspire viewers to take action by showcasing people, projects and ideas that are making a difference. Co-hosted by six twenty and thirty-something TED Talk speakers from a variety of fields – environmentalists, activists, social entrepreneurs – the show calls itself “the new newsroom,” one for “today’s generation.”
Each 30-minute episode is split into three main segments which focus on different issues and each is accompanied by a call to action for viewers, such as to sign a petition or participate in a campaign. In the first season’s four episodes, the segments include investigative spotlights on social problems – such as the relationship between race and prison terms, toxic waste left behind near a U.S. military base, and teenage suicide – as well as “celebrity passion projects.”
Featured celebrities include basketball star LeBron James for his work with Nike to create a shoe for people with disabilities; actors Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed for their animal rights work; singer-songwriters Holly Williams and Chris Coleman for their work with non-profit The Trust for Public Land; singer-songwriter Moby for his vegan and animal agriculture activism; and actor George Clooney on the strife in South Sudan (where he has also worked with Nespresso to rebuild the coffee industry).
Each episode also highlights two social entrepreneurs through one-minute segments called “Just for a Minute,” such as: Lucky Iron Fish founder Gavin Armstrong; Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani; Crisis Text Line founder Nancy Lublin; Kiah Williams, co-founder of SIRUM, a startup which redistributes surplus medications to those in need; Topher White, founder of Rainforest Connection, which takes old cell phones to help stop illegal logging; Jane Chen, co-founder of Embrace Innovations, a company which sells baby swaddles under a buy-one-give-one model to distribute life-saving infant warmers to the developing world; and more.
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Of course, brands can become corporate sponsors of the show. One such advertiser is Colgate, which decided to use the opportunity to both share the water conservation message from its 2016 Super Bowl ad, “Every Drop Counts,” and the story of its "Bright Smiles, Bright Futures" program on ASPIREist. The company retrofitted eight vans into fully-equipped mobile dental offices that travel around the country, mostly to inner cities and rural areas. The vans are designed to be both fully functional for dentists but also to make children feel comfortable during their visit.
The episodes air on Flipboard, YouTube, Facebook and USA Network, and are accompanied by digital content including written articles behind the scenes footage. Another 12 episodes are slated for production. Weinberg, a New York-based online advertising executive, created the show with Los Angeles-based screenwriter Michal Zebede and made it a reality with the help of former 60 Minutes producers Shawn Efran and Solly Granatstein.