Green Advocacy Ads

This page contains critiques of advertisements that attempt to advocate particular actions or mindsets to help the environment.  Environmental Advocacy ads are typically used by environmental groups, such as shown in the first critique of the World Wildlife Federation’s advertisement, “Threads.” The second critique illustrates how a non-traditional environmental organization (in this case Disney) might also engage in environmental advocacy.

World Wildlife Federation’s “Threads”

The World Wildlife Organization is a conservational group working to protect endangered species around the world. By setting goals and defining strategies on their mission statement page, the World Wildlife Fund Organization works to create a more harmonious future between the humans and animals that exist in this same world. The World Wildlife Fund has about 5 million supporters globally, and continues to work for a healthier planet. Funds and donations are put towards conservation as well as the advertisements, which are used in our media-driven world. The advertisement I chose to analyze was a short one-minute video,  “Threads,” with a simple song and a simple message.

“Threads” originated from the World Wildlife Fund around 2011. The organization’s sole purpose was to promote positive thinking about our world as a whole and a sense of unity between the organisms which inhabit the Earth. The video is certainly valuable in the sense that it gets an audience thinking about the connections they have with other humans, animals, and even plants. “Threads” hints at the idea of the butterfly effect, which definitely gets the gears in the minds of the viewers turning regarding the ways in which we treat our world. However, a limitation of the WWF video would be the fact that it does not explain much during the course of the advertisement. The video tells a story, but it does not have a narrator to explain the ways in which we are connected. “Threads” uses a story-telling method of advertisement in which there are more visuals than spoken words to express the interconnectedness of humans with nature, and the ultimate purpose of this story is to branch the idea of connection to the greater idea of conservation.

“Threads” is definitely a form of environmental advocacy put forth by the World Wildlife Fund. The sweet cartoon-like animation with the yarn targets a diverse audience, kids and adults alike. The fact that the video does not require any reading (due to the lack of language) allows literate, and illiterate, young, and old, to view the advertisement and grasp the grand concept that everything is connected physically and figuratively. Since a conservational organization is funding the advertisement, we see the “environmental advocacy” characteristics of the advertisement. The music used throughout the course of the video is fairly upbeat and could be considered inspirational. There are no lyrics in the song, therefore, the audience must rely a good amount on the visuals of the yarn connecting the animals. The use of music and artistic visuals greatly impact the success of a message.

The only words used in this advertisement is at the very end of the minute-long video, and it reads; “We are all connected”. The phrase is only four short words, however, when a message is so short, it makes it easier to have a sort of “punch” into the audience. The phrase provides the audience with food for thought at the close of the advertisement. Following the phrase, the World Wildlife Fund symbol shows which reveals the organization to the audience as well as the words “for a living planet” which hints at the conservational aspect of the video and organization.

I believe this video was an effective form of advertisement as it was very simple with a visual story and a simple statement left with the audience at the end. If this advertisement were to incorporate one of the seven sins of greenwashing, it would probably be the sin of vagueness. Although “Threads” had a fairly simple message of connectedness, some viewers might have wanted more information regarding the organizations purpose for such a vague video, or even more information regarding how the audience can contribute to the effort of conservation “for a living planet”. All in all, I enjoyed the simplicity of the “Threads” video advertisement by the WWF. The sweet song paired with the crafty visuals was appealing to me and I believe it was an effective way to get an audience questioning their impact on the organisms around them.

Critique by Madeline Cleworth

Disney Nature’s Bears

Wow, this thirty seconds advertisement just appeals to many fantasies about nature: wilderness, animals, and absolutely beautiful and sublime scene with no human interaction. It was so adorable when the bears rolled down the snow hill and matched the background music, and when the baby bear came out of the protection of its parents. The upbeat music, the beautiful nature scene, a story about cute bears, plus, I can help to protect the national parks and celebrating earth day at the same time. I have to say this ad successfully made me forget all the bad about nature and made me feel that life is good.

However, is the nature really as sublime and beautiful as the ad portrays? Is it that brave and courageous for bears to raise a family in nature? Am I really helping the national parks just by watching a movie about bears? Does this ad depict real nature? If not, what are the messages this advertisement delivers?

If you buy a ticket, then you can experience all these fantasies and sensational experiences about nature. Want to celebrate the earth day and help the national parks? Buy a ticket and watch this movie. Money can buy a lot of things, including celebrating the Earth Day.

Earth Day was established in 1970 to bring the awareness of environmental issues. Watching this movie about animals living in the wilderness does bring our attention to the environment, but to WHAT ISSUES?  I don’t see this movie depicting any issues that go with Earth Day; no pollution, no climate change, no concerns, everything just seems great and makes it seem as if there is nothing to worry about.

However, the ad contradicts itself.  What the movie is portraying is simply an IDEALIZED form of nature, as people wish it should be and not what nature really is. The angles and exaggeration of detail used in this advertisement created a noble, inspiring, and awe experience of nature.  They are just like Disneyland, a human creation of an idealized place with idealized and expected happiness. The real nature is not just sublime and beautiful that simple. If you go camping or hiking, the experience of nature might be different. It might be dangerous, difficult, and persistence, not just only beautiful. However, in this advertisement, the purpose is to exaggerate the goodness and naturalness of the “Mother Nature” to sell an experience of nature.

The rhetoric of depicting the bear family is anthropomorphic and dramatized, thus the audience is experiencing the nature of motherly or fatherly love like human beings.  Then there will be good animals and bad animals in the movie just like there will always be a bad guy and a good guy to tell a story. This perspective is definitely unnatural.

If nature and animals are depicted that way in the video below, would you choose to watch this on Earth Day?

Critique by Yi Zhou