Looking for new year inspiration? Here’s 10 of 2023’s best environmental campaigns
From Make My Money Matter’s sinister ‘Oblivia Coalmine’ to Greenpeace’s (tiny) stadium-sized oil spill, The Drum’s senior reporter Ellen Ormesher spotlights some of the year’s best ads about the climate crisis.
WWF's 'Endangered Typeface' drew attention to biodiversity loss / Bar Ogilvy
2023 was the year that climate communications came into its power. For years, creatives and campaigners alike have struggled to hit on a tone and style that conveys the urgency of our climate crisis while speaking to the public in a relatable – and crucially – non-condescending way.
Some are beautiful, some are funny, and some are downright gross. But they’re all creative and all showcase what can happen when the industry throws its weight behind the issues of our time.
Make My Money Matter: Oblivian by Lucky Generals
Backed by none other than Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis, the Make My Money Matter campaign aims to raise public awareness of banks investing in fossil fuels.
It started off strong earlier this year, with a satirical ad starring Game of Thrones stars Rose Leslie and Kit Harrington. We made it Ad of the Day.
But it was Academy Award Winner Olivia Colman’s performance as a sinister Big Oil bigwig that really captured our imaginations.
Reacting to the news that McCann is preparing to repitch for Saudi Aramco - the world’s largest oil and gas company – campaigners from Glimpse alongside satirist and musician Oli Frost and the climate communications lab, Utopia Bureau, launched a spoof agency named Atmospheric.
Atmospheric announced itself with a billboard ad in central London that states: “The climate is changing. Business shouldn’t have to” and boasts its own website, LinkedIn page and a CEO named Jamie Kolkot. Its mission statement says it gives clients “the social license they need to Keep the Fire Burning™.”
A masterclass in reactive campaigns and how to fully commit to a bit, you can read a totally real opinion piece by totally real CEO Kolkot here.
Västtrafik: car graph by Forsman & Bodenfors
Every day in the media we are bombarded with new statistics, charts and graphs depicting the severity of the climate emergency. But in its ad for Västtrafik, the agency responsible for public transport services in Västra Götaland, Sweden, Forsman & Bodenfors questioned whether we are missing the key messages amid an information overload.
In the ad, statistics about the carbon emissions of cars versus public transport are recreated in a bar graph that appears in the sky, built of electric and fossil fuel cars, as well as an electric bus. By the end of the spot, viewers can see the difference in the carbon emitted by each mode of transportation.
We liked how the innovative visuals made a potential dry subject memorable.
The Netherlands’ Department Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Drop Store by Publicis Benelux
According to Unicef, four billion people — almost two-thirds of the world’s population — experience severe water scarcity for at least one month each year. And over two billion people live in countries where the water supply is inadequate. With projections anticipating that this issue will only become more pressing, The Drop Store imagines what a supermarket in a water-scarce world would look like.
It points to the fact that we do have the scientific knowledge and technology to get our water system back on track in a sustainable way but highlights that we need awareness to do so.
Surfers Against Sewage: Floater by Mr President
The issue of raw sewage and other waste in the sea is making swimming and surfing up and down the UK untenable.
In collaboration with the charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), creative agency Mr President created a surfboard out of ocean waste (yes, all kinds) to challenge the UK government’s inaction on water pollution.
It’s definitely gross, but it makes its point.
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WWF Portugal and Lisbon Zoo: Endangered Typeface by Bar Ogilvy
Planet Earth has faced mass extinctions before – five of them to be precise. But the sixth most recent (also known as the Anthropocene) is the first that is man-made.
Driven by unsustainable human activity, the sixth mass extinction represents unprecedented biodiversity loss and has contributed to the 28% of assessed species that now face being wiped out forever.
To raise awareness of the threat these species face, Bar Ogilvy created one of the most beautiful campaigns of the year for WWF Portugal, in partnership with Lisbon Zoo, developing a living font where each letter represents a different, threatened animal.
As the number of individuals of a species decreases, the corresponding letter disappears in the same proportion. The font is updated with data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Greenpeace France: Total Pollution
The global fossil fuel industry extracts enough oil every three hours and 37 minutes to fill a rugby stadium – a stat that was expertly demonstrated in Greenpeace’s campaign in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup and its contentious sponsorship by TotalEnergies.
And it made a mark, with the Rugby World Cup threatening the climate campaign network with legal action over its alleged trademark misuse.
A great example of a timely and visually exciting campaign.
This series of posters by the American outdoor product maker showcases the environmental benefits of its hard-wearing items.
A smiley face plastic bag might be the classic ‘to-go bag,’ but a Yeti tote is the ‘go-to bag’ according to its latest campaign highlighting the longevity of its products. The benefit to the planet of less single-use and disposable items is a bonus.
We liked the snappy copy and clean messaging.
The Ministry for the Climate Emergency: Fry-Day
As Europe was hit by its hottest summer on record, this campaign responded to the issue by raising awareness of the dangers of exposure to aviation advertising including increasing the demand for flights under the guise of a public service campaign from the unofficial ‘Ministry for the Climate Emergency.'
Oddbox: Making food waste sexy
Aiming to grab the attention of a younger crowd to prevent unnecessary food waste, Oddbox used the data collected from its vegetable dating site, ‘Soilmates’ launched for Valentine’s Day, Oddbox to identify which unlucky vegetables are most often left untouched.
Potatoes, aubergines and salad leaves are the most commonly discarded and feature on a series of attention-grabbing posters and stickers seemingly featuring inclusive sexual proclivities, inspired by kink, group, BDSM and other alternative practices.
All in good taste, we liked the playfulness and cheeky imagery.