‘Create and Strike’, the industry wide coalition of over 160 creative companies that supported the Global Climate Strike (GCS) on Friday 20th September, has announced the winners of its climate strike competition.
Competition entries were judged by creative luminaries; world renowned photographer Rankin, Hollywood film director Edgar Wright, Glastonbury co-founder Emily Eavis, director of the Tate Modern Frances Morris and head of Planning at AMV chief strategy officer Bridget Angear.
Winning signs shared qualities such as the ability to tackle serious issues with wit, along with high shareability factor, simplicity and striking the right balance between humour and shock factor in order to land their message. Popular choices among judges include a sign that read ‘I wish my sex life was as hot as this planet.’, and signs that use height to innovatively portray the rise in sea levels.
Edgar Wright, Hollywood film director also said: “Art as an influencer has been vital to human knowledge and growth across all of history. From early Greek theatre through to the Renaissance and beyond, almost every period of artistic significance has led to positive change in local and global affairs. But the role of creative influencer is not only relegated to the individual artist. Creative industries as a whole must rise up and make their voices heard if we want positive changes to be made, especially now. I’m in awe of all the recent climate demonstrations and protests. To see so many people come together to make such powerful statements to their governments only gives me further hope for the future of this planet we call home.”
Rankin, added: “I don’t think it is of importance that the creative industries use their powers and influence to drive change. It is their responsibility. To quote, the late Nina Simone: “It's an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live.” In the commercial advertising industry, we have a responsibility to help artists do just that.”
Bridget Angears, CSO at AMV BBDO, commented: “It was Bill Clinton at Cannes that called on us to use our creativity for good and help solve some of the biggest issues on the planet. AMV created Make Poverty History, so we know that an ambitious rallying cry idea can mobilise millions. Whilst it is important that individuals who work in creative industries feel empowered to show their support for the causes they believe in, we can do so much more if we harness all of our creativity power.”
Other notable winners include ‘Dry your eyes mate, there’s no more fish in the sea’, from Sam Weston, a designer at Iris. The placard plays on the Streets hit song ‘Dry your eyes’ released in 2004. The sign was included in rounds up of best strike signs by Vice, Dazed and received 30,000 likes when it was reposted on Instagram by Mike Skinner, front man of the Streets.
‘Save the trees. Use less paper’, a miniature sign created by Katie Burrell, student at the School of Communication Arts 2.0, was picked up in the press worldwide, including BBC, The Guardian, The Sun and Reddit.
On the day of the strike, individuals from more than 160 creative and media agencies joined the protests. Networks who showed support included Publicis, Omnicom, Cheil, IPG and Accenture. The hashtag, #createandstrike, was used over 800 times on Instagram and became a reference across social media, not only for the industry but for many individuals outside of the creative sphere.
Iris, the agency behind the ‘Create and Strike’ activation, created a giant banner that read ‘Advertising industry strikes for the environment. Yes, that’s how much the climate’s changed.’, which was used to galvanise strikers before heading into Westminster. Sarah Tate, CEO of TBWA joined her agency on the streets, accompanied by a giant hot air balloon that stated ‘Hot air is killing us (and we work in advertising).’ Rankin was out on the streets, witnessing the placards created for himself, and Krow Communications paid for DOOH space around London to ensure their creations were seen and heard.
Outside of London, agencies mobilised across the country, including BJL in Manchester who used the city’s famous statue of Emmeline Pankhurst to demonstrate their point.
The momentum leading up to the strike signified a step change in the appetite for action and change within the creative industry. World famous agencies such as Wieden and Kennedy committed to closing their office during the strike to convey their commitment to the climate message. Media owner, Clear Channel, donated digital out of home space, displaying visuals of the initiative and entries at various locations across the UK, including London, Cardiff, Bristol, Oxford, Newcastle and Liverpool.
The ‘Create and Strike’ group also held workshops at The Tate Modern, giving creatives a space make their signs and placards, more than 100 people from various agencies attended.
In the aftermath of the strike, the industry has begun to explore tough questions and hard truths about their role in the climate emergency, in particular the impact of advertising-driven consumption and growth on the climate crisis.
The climate crisis and agency’s relation to it has dominated the industry news agenda, with conversations shifting from the strikes to the bigger industry question ‘What should we do next?’. To help answer this question, the 160 CEOs who have supported Create and Strike will be invited to participate in a year-long climate transition project led by the Purpose Disruptors. Its aim is to help agencies collectively navigate the journey to a more climate responsible advertising model for themselves and their clients.
The next global climate strike is taking place on November 29th, just two weeks before the General Election. Create and Strike are challenging the creative industry to help make the General Election a Climate Election – by producing ideas that encourage people to use their vote with climate change in mind. They are encouraging creatives professionals and agencies to share their messages via #createandstrike.
Ben Essen, CSO of Iris, said “It was amazing to see the commitment and creativity agencies put into the climate strikes - now we need to get to a place where our day to day client work can have an equally positive impact on climate awareness and action. It’s time for us to come together to start changing the system in order to make that possible.”