Advertising 4As United Nations

Five young agency staffers will head to first-ever UN Ocean Conference to present awareness campaign idea


By Minda Smiley | Reporter

April 6, 2017 | 4 min read

They say “we need to talk” are the worst four words you can hear in a relationship, but for five young ad professionals, these words are the basis of a campaign that they hope will encourage millennials to think about how they can do their part to take better care of our planet’s oceans.

4A's Resolve

Momentum’s Kate Franks, LiveIntent’s Keisha Stephen-Gittens, Mindshare’s Kayla O’Leary, Edelman’s Chloe Sharfin and Weber Shandwick’s Michael Sullivan are the winners of this year’s 4A’s ReSolve competition in Los Angeles, a one-day think tank where young agency staffers come together to tackle a social issue using creativity. This year, eight teams were tasked with coming up with a campaign idea for the UN’s 14th Sustainable Development Goal, which is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

The winning team’s idea is based around the notion that many of us have a toxic relationship with the ocean. Despite providing us with things such as drinking water, food and entertainment, we often treat the ocean like a dumping ground: according to the World Economic Forum, one truckload of trash goes into the ocean every minute.

Since the concept of a bad relationship is something that is universally recognized, the team said that they'd kick off the campaign by sending break-up messages to beach-goers on social media from the ocean itself. For example, if someone tweets out a beach pic or posts something about hanging out by the sea, the ocean would tweet back something like, “we’ve had a good run, but we need to talk.”

“Basically, the ocean is going to break up with you over Twitter,” said Sullivan during the team’s presentation.

Other campaign elements would include pre-roll videos that illustrate what a toxic relationship looks like and how that compares to the way society tends to treat the ocean. The campaign would also include a “relationship counselor chat bot” that would allow people to ask for advice on how to repair their relationship with the ocean and what steps they can take to make things better. All efforts will direct people to the UN’s “One for All” page, which asks people to make a pledge to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

The team will be presenting its idea at the first-ever Ocean Conference, which will be held at the UN’s headquarters in New York City from June 5-9.

Sullivan said that the team went back and forth between three different ideas before settling on the toxic relationship one.

“It was our second idea of three ideas, and as soon as it was said, all of us sort of lit up with excitement,” he said.

Stephen-Gittens added that she thinks the universality of relationships is what makes this idea so strong, which is part of the reason why the team ultimately decided to move forward with it.

“I think the most important thing is the whole aspect of relationships being universal,” she said. “Everybody can relate to that, no matter what age, religion or background. Relationships all hit home.”

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