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Climate Change Marketing

Global Climate Strikes: what brands, agencies and media outlets are doing


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

September 20, 2019 | 9 min read

The world is getting uncomfortably warm, and starting today (20 September), millions aim to do something about it. The Global Climate Strikes are beginning now, just ahead of the UN emergency climate summit, and concerned citizens all over the globe – including many brands, agencies and media outlets – are taking a stand as well.

Spurred on by young activist Greta Thunberg, youth are the ones leading the charge of the climate strikes, but they encourage adults to be part of the action. Brands and agencies have taken notice and many are enacting their own campaigns, actions and policies to join the cause.

Below is a sampling of what various advertising and marketing entities are doing to call attention to the global climate crisis.

Create and Strike

Iris Worldwide chief strategy officer Ben Essen wrote a column for The Drum stating that creativity can create culture, so now is the time to Create and Strike. The movement asks that those in the creative industries join the Climate Strikes and Ccreate something that amplifies the climate emergency message at the strikes. It already has 140 signatories and counting, including those from Iris, Droga5, BBH, Lucky Generals, Wieden+Kennedy, Rankin and Ogilvy UK.

One action, by Unit9, uses an AR effect that gives people a more visceral understanding of what climate crisis could really mean if governments don’t take more action. It shows Trafalgar Square in a dystopian future (top of story).

Burger King’s toy meltdown

Burger King is keenly aware that its kid’s meals have featured non-bio-degradable toys, so it’s doing something about it. The restaurant chain’s sustainability initiative, ‘The Meltdown’, led by agency Jones Knowles Ritchie, will see all plastic toys removed from its Junior Meals and melted down for good. It will be promoted through an online film, as well as out-of-home, in-store, PR and experiential. This includes an installation of a melting toy on London’s Southbank.

Flood the News and Covering Climate Now

The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) and The Nation have teamed up on a joint exhibition project called #CoveringClimateNow. During the week, more than 220 publications from around the world have pledged to ‘flood the news’ with climate crisis stories in a united effort to call the world to action.

To kick off the initiative, CJR teamed up with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and TBWA\Chiat\Day New York to inspire influential journalists to bring the climate crisis to the front page with a ‘Flood the News: Bringing the Climate Change Crisis to the Front Page,’ immersive art exhibit that features the front pages of global newspapers physically treated to reflect the looming impacts of the climate crisis, like rising seas, intensifying heatwaves, declining snowpack, increased pollution, and extreme wildfires.

The Future is Calling

Chief executive officers from across the media and marketing industry have joined together to pledge climate action during Advertising Week New York and beyond.

Under the banner ‘The Future is Calling’ they are taking a united pledge to use the full force of their resources to creatively and effectively increase public knowledge and urgency about the climate crisis. The Potential Energy Coalition organized the pledge in partnership the Ad Council and Advertising Week New York to galvanize those business leaders that have the most power to impact change.

Leaders from Facebook, Twitter, Droga5, Vayner Media, Nielsen Holdings, Wieden+Kennedy, Anomaly, McCann, BBH, DDB Worldwide, RG/A, Digitas, 4A’s and others have already joined the fight.

Digital Climate Strike

Over 1,000 websites and companies are joining the Digital Climate Strike. Many of these largest websites in the world are participating, such as Imgur, Tumblr, and Wordpress, by spreading the word on social media, donating ad space, or putting banners on their websites to announce the strikes. Some companies, like Burton and Patagonia, will be taking more aggressive action, such as shutting down both their physical and online stores on 20 September and encouraging employees and customers to strike.

Patagonia ad

SodaStream shutdown

Sparkling water brand SodaStream, announced that it is shutting down its global e-commerce and head office operations for 24 hours in support of the Global Climate Summit. Additionally, Sodastream chief executive, Eyal Shohat, calls on all SodaStream employees around the world to join in local activities. The company, well-known for its fight against single-use plastic waste, will deliver the message: “Global Climate Strike in Solidarity with the Young Generation for a Better Future” on its websites.

Channel 4 climate takeover

Channel 4 is joining the Global Climate Strike by disrupting its usual evening weather report with a special takeover – and Channel 4 and E4’s key social media accounts will stand alongside young people in the UK and go on strike from 9:30am until 5:30pm today, after the last post at 9:29am to signal the walk-out. Additionally, continuity announcers will share facts drawn from World Meteorological Organisation research throughout the day on Channel 4.

The Economist’s climate issue

Economist climate issue

For the first time in its 176-year history, The Economist is dedicating its weekly edition to one subject: climate change. In addition to the cover, lead article and briefing, every section of the 21 September edition of the newspaper will include an article on climate change. To complement the issue, The Economist Group is running a range of marketing and commercial activities related to climate change.

There Are 17 Numbers That Can Change the World

The mobile campaign, ‘There Are 17 Numbers That Can Change the World’ has been created by Out There Impact, (a division of Out There Media) to help promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The campaign asks users to select a number between one and 17, which correspond to specific goals, on their handsets. Selecting a number reveals how the user can help achieve them. The target is to reach one billion people. There are no data charges associated with the project and it can be accessed using legacy devices and smartphones.

Play Food from the Future

Not only is agency Forsman & Bodenfors taking part in the climate strike, the agency is also part of a campaign to look to the future of sustainable food.

Forsman & Bodenfors Sweden partnered with its sister design agency, Happy F&B, and the world’s leading sustainability award, Win Win Award, on a for-good campaign aimed at teaching children to eat insects and reduce food waste. The United Nations is aiming to reduce global food waste by 50% by the year 2030. To broaden the interest and trigger curiosity about sustainable food, Win Win Award launched the ”Play Food from the Future” toy set, representing different sustainable foods from the future, to get the new generation used to the idea of eating things that even some adults might reject.

The Climate Pen

The Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, which previously welcomed presidents Trump and Putin to the Helsinki 2018 summit with their ’Welcome to the Land of Free Press’ campaign, has now produced a bespoke gift pen to encourage climate action among world leaders ahead of next week’s UN climate action summit – the Climate Pen

The pen's ink is made of carbon dioxide, the key greenhouse gas causing man-made climate change. The pens were given to the members of Finnish parliament as well as the leaders of G20 countries. The carbon dioxide ink was made in collaboration with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. In addition to its unusual ink, the Climate Pen aims to remind its owner of carbon emissions by its appearance – the black, angular metal body draws its inspiration from black coal and graphite.

The Climate Pen

Plastic straw vinyl record

Bacardi’s partnership with Lonely Whale aims to rid the world of one billion single-use straws by 2020. In celebration of World Cleanup Day (21 September), the rum brand announced that it will now give people an alternative to throwing away their straws: turn them into music by creating the first-ever straw vinyl.

Through the new Straw Vinyl program, Bacardi and Lonely Whale will collect used straws from 55 partner bars across the country and upcycle them into limited-edition vinyl records. It partnered with Major Lazer and Anitta to use their music for the greater good. All of the upcycled vinyl records will be pressed with the global music titans’ summer anthem, Make It Hot.

Floridians are the most vulnerable people in the United States to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and an increasing number of severe weather events. That’s why one of Florida’s most famous residents, the legendary Florida Man of viral fame, has posted a comedic video sending an urgent message to online viewers: “Join the global climate strikes on September 20th, and help protect me from extinction.”

Save Florida Man

Floridians are the most vulnerable people in the United States to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and an increasing number of severe weather events. That’s why one of Florida’s most famous residents, the legendary Florida Man of viral fame, has posted a comedic video sending an urgent message to online viewers: “Join the global climate strikes on September 20, and help protect me from extinction.”

The video, part of an initiative called 'Save Florida Man', launched on social and digital platforms in a series of videos, gifs and downloadable climate strike posters. All assets and more information about the campaign can be found at

Save Florida Man is an initiative funded by Potential Energy Coalition in partnership with leading creative and innovation agency Joan and new wave production company Missing Pieces.

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