Advertising the climate emergency

Last Friday an estimated four million people worldwide took to the streets to draw attention to the climate emergency and demand action to save the planet. Striking school children made up the majority of protesters, but they were cheered on by plenty of adults, including, you might be shocked to hear, a substantial cohort from the advertising industry.

That may come as something of a surprise, because, well, advertising isn’t known for its militancy, but industry employees met on the steps of London’s Tate Britain and, so I’ve heard tell, marched behind a banner which said, ‘Advertising industry strikes for the environment (yes, that’s how much the climate’s changing).’

This move was initiated by a collective called Create and Strike, and 150 agencies signed up, agreeing to allow their employees to strike. The decision to take part wasn’t necessarily easy – would you participate if, hypothetically, one of your clients was an oil company or even a car producer? – but a significant number of firms had the internal debate and did it.

I’ve got to admit the Prizeology team didn’t don trainers and march, but we were there in spirit and we also made another contribution. Create and Strike ran a competition to draw attention to the protest against climate change, to ‘amplify the message’, and we worked on the concept and wrote the terms and conditions.

Ad industry types were challenged to create a sign (or indeed, if they were so moved, a blimp) to get the seriousness of the climate emergency across. It had to be powerful – a simple message that could incite change; shareable – something with the power to travel the world; and iconic – entrants were encouraged to think big and work with others.

The competition has been judged by various creative luminaries from Tate Modern, Glastonbury, Hollywood (and I don’t mean Paul) and the UK Student Climate Network, and the winners will be announced on 2 October. We await the results with interest.

And on the topic of political poster competitions, have you seen that Led By Donkeys has built an online tool that enables you to design your own spoof ‘Get ready for Brexit’ poster? OK, I appreciate that if you support no deal you may not see the funny side, but it amused me. Share your submission on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #GetReadyForBrexit and Armando Iannucci and David Schneider will pick the best five. The prize? Your poster will appear on a big billboard. The closing date is also 2 October.

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist.

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