As of today, April 22nd, 2022, over a billion people across the globe are observing Earth Day. An opportunity to recognise and demonstrate the cruciality of protecting the planet and its environment - given the recent developments in climate change - it’s understandable why an occasion such as this would be more anxiety-inducing than joyous.
These negative feelings are things which Earth Day Canada has recognised for some time. Working together with Sid Lee, the two groups have been planning their ‘Remedy Together’ initiative - a mobilisation campaign inviting those suffering from eco-anxiety to ease their despair by calling in sick for Earth Day and subsequently partaking in collective initiatives such as group therapy, conferences, or clean-ups.
Sid Lee associate creative directors Adrien Heron, Ugo Martinez and Julien Herisson, together with Earth Day Canada communications manager Léo Cressatti, spoke to LBB’s Josh Neufeldt about how they brought this campaign to life.
LBB> Helping people find Earth Day activities undoubtedly takes a lot of time, planning and coordination. How long has this project been in the works?
Léo> It is indeed a campaign that requires a lot of energy. We started working on it at the end of last year, and we have been developing the concept over the past few months by mobilising different parties to join us so that this campaign is a real call to action!
LBB> What was the brief like? At what point did you find your desire to work together?
Léo> It's a collaboration that is marked by the arrival of Kristian Manchester, executive creative director at Sid Lee, to the Earth Day Canada board last winter. He brings with him a sharp artistic eye and experience with the creative agency, which is not new to the field and has, in the past, signed several award-winning campaigns that have helped raise awareness and mobilise citizens around environmental issues.
We gave Sid Lee the brief that we wanted an engaging campaign that focused on taking action by making eco-anxiety a central theme, in order to raise awareness about this little-known mental health issue that is affecting more and more people. We wanted an awareness-raising campaign with a positive note to show that all is not lost if we mobilise together. This is what Sid Lee has succeeded in doing so magnificently.
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> The brief was basically: ‘how can we address the eco-anxiety struggle that more and more people are going through’?
From that, we knew it was a great brief because the topic is quite new, at least in the advertising/media realm. With such an unknown creative territory, we had a lot of ideas about how to tackle it, but as we researched by meeting with eco-anxious people and psychologists, we quickly understood that the condition was not recognized or taken seriously enough.
LBB> What was the research process like with regards to the negative effects climate change has on mental health? What were the most surprising findings?
Léo> The negative effects of climate change on mental health are real and recognized, and we have received support from Inês Lopes, PhD, psychologist and eco-educator. We surveyed the Canadian population in March, and we discovered that 45% of Canadians report feeling eco-anxiety at least from time to time, 59% of whom are between the ages of 18-34.
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> As we started talking about eco-anxiety around us, we realised that most of our friends were experiencing it in one way or another, without ever really putting a name to it. Going deeper into the research, we also found out that the effects could be very intense. A lot of young people are really struggling with eco-anxiety: having trouble sleeping, feeling nauseous in certain places like supermarkets and feeling very lonely with their anxiety. It’s paradoxical knowing how many young people are actually feeling the same way.
LBB> What was the collaborative process like?
Léo> The collaboration with Sid Lee was great. It was a real pleasure to work with such a creative and committed team that shares the same values.
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> To be honest, Earth Day Canada was an amazing client. They had great trust in us and thus gave us a lot of liberty in creation. Also, it felt like a real co-creation. Since part of the concept could only be brought by them, the solution was to act together and trust the parts of the project which only the association could pull off. We were also able to find artists like LM Chabot
that were sensitive to the cause themselves - being eco-anxious. This created a process in which everyone involved in the project had the same values and was pushing for the cause, regardless of the challenges we faced.
LBB> The video is packed with bright colours and action. Why did you choose that direction for the art direction?
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> We wanted to mix film with illustration to underline the invisible symptoms of eco-anxiety. ‘You are sick, but you probably don’t look like you are’. Generally, anxiety is kept hidden by the people who suffer from it, as it is still not widely recognised. Colourful illustrations were a good way for us to shed light on the symptoms and ease the eco-anxious feelings - which are more than legitimate.
LBB> The video’s sound effects and music are very effective at conveying the stress that comes with climate change. Who did you work with to design and curate the audio, and what was that like?
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> We worked with CULT NATION, who are great to work with as they produce original music with great artists. They immediately dug in the concept, bringing the anxiety out of sounds taken from natural disasters.
LBB> Colourful animations are also a memorable aspect of the video. Who did you work with on the animation process, and what was that like?
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> The motion was created in-house by Isabelle Vouligny and David Leclerc. They were able to find the right amount of simplicity and naivety we were looking for. There were also a lot of Sid Lee illustrators that participated - creating assets for the film as well as for the key visual.
LBB> What was the process of designing the website like? Did you leave most of this up to Earth Day Canada or were you quite involved too?
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> We wanted the simplest website possible. A one proposition/action website on which you could call in sick in a minute and where you would receive a note from a psychologist that can help you explain to your employer why you would ask for a sick day on Earth Day. We designed the website in-house, and the Earth Day Canada web team integrated it.
LBB> What challenges have you faced during this project? How did you overcome them?
Léo> Time is always a challenge! But thanks to our collaboration with Sid Lee's great creative team, we managed to deliver an engaging and impactful multi-media campaign!
LBB> What has the response to the campaign been like? Are many people planning on calling in sick on the 22nd?
Léo> It's a campaign that gets people talking! In particular, the ‘Call In Sick for Earth Day’ tagline generated a lot of reactions and had to be clarified. Overall, we have received very good feedback, especially from young people who are really affected by eco-anxiety. There are already several hundred people who have ‘called-in sick’ on our website - RemedyTogether.org - and we expect to see many more Earth Day events and participation in activities across the country.
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> So far, we have had a great response. Hundreds of people have already called-in sick on our website, and there will probably end up being more. When we look at social media, we do have a feeling that it is sparking/contributing to the conversation around eco-anxiety.
LBB> Are there any particular outcomes you’re hoping to see following the 22nd? Given the ever-present nature of climate change, will you continue to offer help and access to initiatives for those suffering from eco-anxiety?
Léo> We hope that people suffering from eco-anxiety will be considered and we will continue to provide them with resources and refer them to solutions, such as the Eco-motion NPO which offers specialised workshops in this area.
LBB> How can Canada improve on the front of dealing with climate-change? Are there any specific things you’re hoping to see in the coming year?
Léo> There is still much room for improvement in tackling climate change, starting with limiting our need for fossil fuels as mentioned in the latest IPCC report.
LBB> Is there anything you’d like to add?
Léo> On April 22nd, join the movement!
Adrien, Ugo and Julien> If you feel eco-anxious, you are not alone, and acting with others for the planet is a great step towards healing. Take the day off on Earth Day and join action with us!