“Climate Leadership Now! Before There’s No-One Left to Find” Advertising Campaign
Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is a national charity that is dedicated to preserving healthy oceans and protecting the wildlife that call them home. The AMCS head office is located in my own home city of Brisbane, and they have worked tirelessly for over 55 years on campaigns to establish marine reserves, ban whaling, stop supertrawlers, and protect endangered marine species.
In 2020, AMCS was graciously donated advertising space by Ooh Media, an outdoor advertising and media company based in Sydney. Ooh Media’s staff members regularly take turns in choosing a charitable organization that the company will donate some of their advertising space to. And in this instance, AMCS was chosen because the staff member cares deeply about marine conservation and said that AMCS is their most favorite organization.
“I worked with them to narrow those concepts down to something that is more specifically focused on the Great Barrier Reef.”
AMCS reached out to me to create their advertising campaign for the donated advertising space. The original brief included a wide range of potential concept directions (e.g., pro-clean energy and anti-coal messaging), so I worked with them to narrow those concepts down to something that is more specifically focused on the Great Barrier Reef. This was for two main reasons. Firstly, the Great Barrier Reef is more closely aligned with the AMCS brand. And secondly, the connection between different sources of energy and marine conservation is too complicated (e.g., energy from fossil fuels contributes to climate change which in turn raises global temperatures and causes increased climate impacts like coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef) to adequately explain within the context of a billboard or advertisement, which generally need to be quite short and simple. Trying to communicate this connection between energy sources and marine conservation in an advertisement would therefore have resulted in the advertisement being confusing to a general public audience, and have a loss of impact.
“I proceeded in creating a draft version of the advertising campaign execution, which featured photos of a clownfish and a regal blue tang that I had edited to appear similar to what I thought photorealistic versions of Nemo and Dori from the Finding Nemo computer-animated film might look like.”
The team at AMCS hosted a brainstorming session to refine their concepts based on my advice, and ended up coming up with a fantastic idea that involved characters from Disney and Pixar’s famous Finding Nemo computer-animated film. I discussed with them some ideas of how I could graphically execute their new idea, but that the only problem would be navigating the legal concerns associated with using characters such as these. So, AMCS sought legal counsel and were advised that their new concept would be fine to proceed with since Disney do not own the general idea of a clownfish (i.e., the species of the character Nemo) and regal blue tang (i.e., the species of the character Dori) appearing together. Based on this advice, I proceeded in creating a draft version of the advertising campaign execution, which featured photos of a clownfish and a regal blue tang that I had edited to appear similar to what I thought photorealistic versions of Nemo and Dori from the Finding Nemo computer-animated film might look like.
AMCS sent the draft advertising concept off to their legal team, which quickly responded to inform us that the advertising concept looked too similar to the characters Nemo and Dori, and that they would need to be changed back to unedited photos of fish in order to be legally safe. At this point, AMCS decided to slightly change tack by asking to remove the regal blue tang fish, and instead simply go with a more generic clownfish that is sitting on its own amongst some coral. From the draft version of the clownfish, I only kept some basic cosmetic edits as well as the photo editing I had made to make it look more shocked and frightened (i.e., by making its mouth much larger and opened wider).
“The campaign ended up appearing on multiple billboards in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, as well as in shopping centers all over Australia.”
The final advertising campaign featured the messaging “climate leadership now!” and “act now before there’s no-one left to find” where the second sentence combined with the photo of the clownfish was enough to subtly reference the film Finding Nemo without potentially infringing on copyright or intellectual property laws. The campaign ended up appearing on multiple billboards in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, as well as in shopping centers all around Australia. It was live from August to mid-September in 2020 and seen by hundreds of thousands of people.
It was exciting to get to work on this fantastic advertising campaign with the wonderful team at AMCS. And also to be part of the broader push for our leaders to take action on climate change. It’s a privilege to use my skills to help in efforts to protect our beautiful natural marine environments such as the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit the AMCS website: marineconservation.org.au
Project Manager: Nadia Razzhigaeva, AMCS.
Communications Manager: Ingrid Neilson, AMCS.
Senior Communications Strategist: Shane Cucow, AMCS.
Art Direction & Design: Jarren Nylund, Design Good Design Studio.