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3 Campaigns to Get You Fired Up for Earth Day

No one doubts the power of advertising, though many see it as a necessary evil in a capitalist system to create dissatisfaction and promote consumerism. But there are countless examples of advertising being used as a force for good to promote social causes. Just look at all the campaigns created through Ad Council over the years shining a light on important issues, such as homelessness, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, and the list goes on. There’s no better time than Earth Month to highlight what advertising can do for climate change and the environment. (Click to Tweet!)

We are especially impressed by campaigns from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an organization dedicated to protecting forests, wildlife, freshwater, and much more. They are a leader in creating innovative campaigns worldwide that galvanize us to think and act differently. In honor of this month, we want to spotlight three campaigns from WWF promoting environmental initiatives and reminding us of the reality of climate change. 

1. Beautiful Then, #TooLatergram Now

Have you ever heard that a “picture is worth a thousand words”? Of course you have. In their brilliant #TooLatergram campaign, WWF and agency TBWA\Paris remind us why this tired cliche is so effective by using the power of Instagram.

Instagramers (IGers) are accustomed to scrolling through their feed and seeing beautiful pictures of vacation destinations and exotic trips. Everybody loves to share the natural beauty they experience, whether they are photographers, influencers, or friends from high school. Many use IG’s carousel feature to show a variety of images from snorkeling adventures, lush forests and pristine beaches.

When the stream of earth’s beauty and travel highlight reels is interrupted, it’s a shock to the system. And that’s exactly where a picture can be > than a thousand words.

Teaming up with nine well-known Instagram travelers, WWF decided to use the power of pictures to remind IG users that climate change is not some distant future dystopia – it’s now. Using the carousel feature, these travelers first posted a gorgeous picture from the past…followed by a disturbing photo of that exact same location NOW.

Plastic bottles in lakes. Gray, dead coral. Oil rigs peppering desert landscapes. Below the pictures, captions explained that it’s #TooLatergram to visit these places –  climate change and human civilization has destroyed them.

It’s a sobering and heart-breaking visual reality check. The campaign urges Instagram users to act NOW to prevent these once-beautiful landscapes from being further degraded.

2. Fifteen Square Kilometers of Rainforest Disappear Every Minute

This image has a striking impact. As your eye moves left to right, the energy of adventure and excitement quickly shifts to a reality check of the ominous sky and depleted earth. The sudden change from a lush jungle to scrub might be a dramatized version of what you can find in nature. But by placing the lively rainforest next to barren earth, the ultimate impact of deforestation becomes stark and urgent.  

The point is driven home further by the rope-swinging man plunging toward hard earth. His bare chest and swimming trunks fit right in with the rainforest on the left. His swinging is full of energy and adventure – but we know he will not survive impact with the dry ground on the right. Across from him, nearly blending in against the brown earth, is a construction vehicle. Placing man and machine together reminds us that we are implicated in every square kilometer of rainforest that vanishes.

This campaign from WWF makes the viewer immediately aware that deforestation is dire, as dire as launching ourselves from a rope swing onto hard ground. Rope-swinging is a carefree activity, but we need to be anything but cavalier about the impact of rainforest loss.

3. Global Warming is Leaving Many Homeless

This campaign is effective because it interrupts our schema – at glance it could be a campaign about homelessness in large cities. We might expect a call to action to volunteer, donate, or otherwise help decrease homelessness.

But a second look makes it clear that there’s no human living in the cardboard box – it’s a polar bear! Combining polar bears and cities is jarring. It’s a powerful reality check that climate change means changing conditions at our poles, even though no snow or melting glaciers are shown. Even if climate change isn’t obvious in our day-to-day lives, it is already impacting other earth-dwellers.

Homelessness inspires empathy in most people – it’s a situation that none would envy. But we rarely think about “homelessness” in the context of animals, and their habitats are rapidly vanishing under the onslaught of human activity. It’s a harsh reminder for viewers that climate change is will bring change to our cities and lives.

These striking campaigns are an important reminder that climate change is REAL, and it’s NOW. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, and since then many situations have become more critical. But there has also been progress to be proud of! To end on a high note, check out National Geographic’s 46 Environmental Victories since the First Earth Day. (Thanks to local B Corp Clean Choice Energy for sharing this on Twitter!)

Read our previous Green Talk roundup of inspiring environmental campaigns here!

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As RoundPeg’s partner and creative director, Polina has over 20 years experience turning complex concepts into compelling visual communications. She also knows how to speak Russian and make delicious sauerkraut! Polina enjoys knitting despite her fear of pointy objects and loves nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. See more posts by Polina..
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