Adobe, Pantone and The Ocean Agency combat climate change with coral-inspired colors

Coral reefs are home to vibrant species of fish and underwater life, but they are also one of the barometers of how the seas are coping with climate change. To call attention to their plight, Adobe and the Pantone Color Institute are launching ‘Glowing, Glowing, Gone,’ a campaign developed in partnership with The Ocean Agency – the non-profit behind the documentary Chasing Coral – that aims to inspire action against climate change through creativity.

Corals sometimes produce vibrantly colored chemicals that act as sunscreens to protect themselves against underwater heat waves caused by climate change. To raise awareness of the coral reef crisis, Pantone and the Adobe Stock Visual Trends forecasting team analyzed imagery captured by The Ocean Agency in New Caledonia to identify the unique colors of coral fluorescence, creating a range of “glowing” colors that embody these ecosystems’ tragically beautiful death.

The ‘Glowing, Glowing, Gone’ campaign will kick off with a design challenge inviting brands and the creative community to show their support for ocean conservation by using these vibrant colors in creative designs, products and more — with the opportunity for artwork to be featured in New York City’s Times Square, key ocean policy conferences/events, and Adobe Max – The Creativity Conference.

The teams created the colors after Richard Vevers, founder of The Ocean Agency, and his team heard that corals were turning incredible colors off the coast of New Caledonia and traveled there to study and document them through photo and video.

“They shot many stunning images showing these fluorescing corals and much of the content The Ocean Agency licenses through Adobe Stock presents this incredible phenomenon. Because Adobe Stock partners with Pantone on color-focused projects throughout the year, we immediately began discussing the possibility of creating new and accurate hues that creatives could work with in their own projects, as well as through the ‘Glowing, Glowing, Gone’ design challenge, to help quickly develop awareness around the fluorescing corals. Pantone and Adobe Color worked directly with the brightest pixels of fluorescing corals imagery at Adobe Stock to match the tones across print and digital,” Brenda Milis, principal of creative services and visual trends for Adobe Stock, told The Drum.

“A huge amount of effort went into finding the colors. We chased the underwater heatwaves of the Third Global Coral Bleaching Event all around the world to photograph the impact on reefs – a story that was documented in the Netflix Original Documentary Chasing Coral. In many locations, some corals were fluorescing, but it was only when we responded to reports of coral bleaching in New Caledonia that we recorded corals fluorescing in extremely vivid colors – something that has rarely been documented before,” added Vevers.

“The color of the corals was so bright it seemed like a visual alarm – as if the corals were saying ‘look at me – please notice.’ We asked Adobe and Pantone to help us sample the vibrant colors of the coral in our imagery into colors that easily used by designers, creatives and brands to make the world take notice; this led to our range of three Pantone Glowing Colors,” he said.

Mills said that the most powerful learning from the project is how necessary both creativity and technology are to help raise awareness around the plight of the coral reefs. “The corals are giving off visual signs underwater and their ‘cries for help’ have gone largely unnoticed as they have remained almost completely unseen. Thanks to image technology and the support of creative partners, we are now able to show the world the coral's fluorescing colors, as well as communicate their meaning – the intensity of the colors match the intense need for preservation.”

Vevers added that the most exciting part of the project was seeing a big shift in support for conservation and climate action among individuals, organizations and businesses, which are all seeking to get involved and make a difference. “After years of lack of support, and little hope for saving coral reefs, the tide is finally changing,” said Vevers.

The Adobe Stock curated collection for 'Glowing, Glowing, Gone' and The Ocean Agency assets will be highlighted in the Adobe Blog and on the Adobe Stock social channels. Select assets are provided for free to the creative community who take part in the Glowing Design Challenge hosted by The Ocean Agency at glowing.org. Adobe Principal Creative Cloud Evangelist Paul Trani will also share the collections in a live stream he is hosting.

Artists and creatives are being challenged to use the colors to create art and designs that make the world stop and take notice of glowing corals and the warning they represent, including artwork, showcasing at key policymaking events, public art installations and product designs such as swimwear, surfboards, and sunscreen packaging.

“The coral reef crisis represents far more than just saving corals. Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine life and are the main source of food and income for half a billion people. They are firmly on the front line of the climate crisis due to 93% of climate change heat being absorbed by the ocean. This is the moment in time when we have to decide whether we are prepared to lose not just individual species but entire global ecosystems on which we depend,” said Vevers.

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