What happens when Earth is struggling, it's scary!

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

Concerns for the environment aren’t new. For years now the calls for action have been getting louder and louder and for a multitude of reasons. Whether it be air, water or land quality we can’t really afford to ignore the issue and hope it goes away. We all contribute to it via our choices in how we shop, how we travel, how much water we use, etc. We don’t live in bubbles and many of us have children or are planning to have them. So, what kind of Earth will they inherit? In this blog post, we will discuss this issue through the lens of a World Wildlife Fund advertisement focusing on the issue of deforestation. To find out more just keep reading.

The case study

Brand: World Wildlife Fund Ad descriptive: Deforestation

Figure WWF, Public Interest: Before it's too late, http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/wwf_lungs

Journal Article:

Leonidou, L.C., Leonidou, C.N., Palihawadana, D. & Hultman, M. 2011, "Evaluating the green advertising practices of international firms: a trend analysis", International Marketing Review, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 6-33, viewed 26 July 2017, doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/10.1108/02651331111107080

Analytical critique: Snapshot Criteria Analysis in Brief Impact on CB behaviour Awareness, concern, and action; Increased donations and advocating for the cause; a Chain reaction of recruitment of friends, family, and colleagues to the cause; Increased awareness of those not doing their bit; If you’re not part of the solution then you are part of the problem Key award-winning aspects Relatable; Killing the planet is killing us; If the planet suffocates so do we; it starts off small we shouldn’t wait for it to get big; Call to action; Easily observable; Practically useful Analytical critique: In full

The World Wildlife Fund aims to put in sharp focus that what we do today has a lasting and devastating impact on the planet. The world’s forests, oceans, wildlife, etc. do not just exist for our benefit but also for those of future generations. Our actions today affect the climate and by extension the abundance and diversity of our food and reserves of potable water. It’s unfortunate that the problem seems so far removed from us. Indeed, often the consumer views it as a problem somewhere else affecting someone else. It is for this reason that the brand has chosen a creative approach that features a representation of human lungs at its centre. The audience cannot help to relate to this organ that they themselves have. The consumer sees these lush green lungs tainted by a patch at the bottom right and they understand the inherent barrenness of that little brown patch. The consumer understands that this patch has no trees and by extension no wildlife. They understand that the trees are what bring the oxygen and they relate it back to their lung’s bronchioles. They understand that if they were to suffer disease or damage to their lungs, they would breathe with far less ease. Damage, therefore, to Earth’s “lungs” (by way of deforestation) as indeed our own would eventually lead to suffocation. Deforestation is death for our anthropomorphised counterpart. The success of this advertisement lies in this relatability. One would assume that awareness, concern, and action are the inevitable result. However, what also may occur is that individuals may see other companies or brands using this type of advertising in a tokenistic manner simply to increase their market share or augment the loyalty that consumers feel towards them. Brands with tokenistic gestures towards social or environmental issues, issues that are seen as only ‘trendy’ therefore temporary or ‘faddish’ and an increasingly sceptical consumer may mean that the World Wildlife Funds clever advertising may still not result in a groundswell of support for these pertinent environmental issues.

Issues such as responsible consumption and production, wage and lifestyle inequalities (e.g. non-potable water, hunger, lack of clean energy, etc), climate action, etc. are pertinent subjects that need addressing. Very real action needs to be taken at all levels of society to resolve these issues. As consumers, we must do something at an individual level. As marketing, advertising or PR professionals we need to ensure that we aren’t being tokenistic in our displays of concern for these issues. We can’t afford to have a cavalier, self-absorbed attitude. After all, if the Earth’s lungs die then so do we.

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