To show off the impact of carbon emissions and #DriveChange for an emission-free world ahead of COP26, UltraSuperNew explain how they created a satirical spoof for Greenpeace Japan and Korea
If you’re like me, daydreaming is a real big pastime of yours. Those hours whiled away staring out the window, wondering what if….? But, if you’re anything like the creative minds at UltrsSuperNew Tokyo then your daydreaming is a little different. Forget wondering what if, they wonder when. Nothing is a bigger example of this than the campaign they created for Greenpeace Japan and Korea to promote the #DriveChange initiative that touches upon what society could look like when it’s carbon emission-free.
In a twist from any sort of idyllic scenes, the film shows off the lives of five ‘haters’ in the year 2051. From an angry petrolhead to a woman despairing that the Amazon has been saved, the lives of the characters has been utterly changed by zero-emission engines – and not for the best. The campaign is as funny as it is poignant and to hear more about the idea behind it, LBB’s Natasha Patel caught up with at UltraSuperNew Tokyo’s creative director Francois Claverie.
LBB> What was the initial brief for this campaign?
Francois> Greenpeace Japan and Korea sought to drum up interest for their #DriveChange initiative ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, with a film that could help the public get excited about the future that we could make for ourselves, if we play our cards right.
With #DriveChange and its petition, Greenpeace aims to put pressure on the automakers that are being excessively slow at phasing out Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) in favour of zero-emission engines.
LBB> Why was humour the best route to go down for this campaign? And where did the tagline ‘Haters Gon’ Hate’ come from?
Francois> Greenpeace is rather known for its ‘shock’ tactics in Western countries, but interestingly, it’s difficult for the Korean and Japanese public to sympathise with this kind of activism. So we needed to keep things light-hearted and positive. And that was the premise of our idea: in this near-future, after humanity finally got its act together, the world’s problems are cured, and everyone is happy… (it doesn’t get much more positive than that!)
But by “everyone”, we mean “almost everyone”. Because no matter how good things get, there’ll always be Haters. That’s true today, and we can’t expect that to change in 2051. We wanted to lay out a utopian vision of the future, in which there’s really nothing to complain about, unless you’re a Hater, in which case you might find petty reasons to moan about. The Haters are really just an entertaining excuse for us to show you how cool things could be.
LBB> I love the characters throughout this, they're so funny and also make us think about what the future could look like. Where did inspiration for each character come from?
Francois> From our long list of aspiring haters, these five made the cut. With ICE vehicles heading for the museum, the barn or recycling centres, we wanted to show what the life of a future petrolhead might look like (Kazuya). We wanted a character that could exemplify the automotive industry executive of 2021, one of those backwards-looking ones, who’s dragging his feet about transitioning to zero-carbon vehicles (Satoshi).
We thought that it could be amusing to show a character that somehow misses traffic jams (Yuki), to highlight the notion that with improved urban planning and public transportation, we’ll see far fewer vehicles on our roads. And a direct consequence of this would be that so much of the space currently used up for car parks, multi-lane roads (etc.) will be reclaimed, turned into green spaces. Something only a hater could complain about (Yuto).
LBB> My favourite is the Greenpeace campaigner who 'Saved the Amazon'. Why was this particular character important for Greenpeace?
Francois> The idea for Akemi, the Greenpeace campaigner, actually came from Greenpeace themselves! How brave! It felt like a clever way to show that Greenpeace has the power to make a difference, if we all care to support them.
And sure, when there are no more ecological problems to solve on this planet, they’ll run out of business, but they won’t really complain about that (maybe just Akemi).
LBB> What is the conversation around carbon emissions in Japan at the moment?
Francois> The Japanese government had pledged to cut its emissions by 80% by 2050. Former PM Yoshihide Suga had also vowed to make that happen even sooner... But whilst Japan can be incredibly fast at developing certain technologies, its bureaucracy can make the required structural changes needed mind-bogglingly sluggish.
To date, the reduction of carbon emissions is about as slow as that of the use of single-use plastics. A majority of people here know these are serious issues, but things just aren’t moving fast enough.
LBB> Tell us about the reaction from viewers and whether the campaign has been able to change their views on carbon emissions?
Francois> After just three days, the campaign had already garnered hundreds of signatures for the #DriveChange petition. It’s too soon to tell how this could move the needle with the automotive industry, but the video is getting far greater reach and sparking far more comments than we’d all anticipated.
LBB> What’s next for Greenpeace in Korea and Japan?
Francois> I’ve strictly no idea at this point as this hasn’t come up yet, but I’ll go ahead and answer ‘yes’! There seems to be a demand for a Kazuya spin-off series...
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Francois> Thank-yous are in order: to Greenpeace for trusting us (they’re as brave as you’d expect them to be), to the entire UltraSuperNew team and production team that worked tirelessly to get this through the line.