From Street Surfers directed by Arthur Neumeier
2015 was a significant turning point for humanity. After failed attempts and against a backdrop of mounting scientific evidence and global consciousness, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals set us on a new course for a more just and symbiotic future.
That same year, sustainability communications agency Futerra (also the first to answer Extinction Rebellion’s letter to the Ad industry last year) published a strategy to “sell the sizzle, not the sausage” when it comes to climate change, offering an upbeat alternative to the current, flawed approach: shift the focus from the problem to the solutions, their galvanizing opportunities – “selling the sizzle”- as a way to make progress as well as inspire people to get onboard.
Undoubtedly, we’re facing multiple challenges today: an ever-increasing world population (four-fold since my grandparents’ birth in the 1910s) and growing global (over) consumption, have put unprecedented pressures on the Planet. Our traditional, linear take-make-waste approach means we use the equivalent of 1.7 Earth each year just to sustain our global demand.
From The Women of the City of Joy directed by Marc Silver
The issues of resource scarcity and climate-related extreme weather events affecting supplies, livelihoods and transport, are a pressing reality. Inequalities are rising and the gap between the rich and the poor, widening. Authoritarian regimes abound and so do protests, the world over. Recognising this is all part of one, interconnected picture, is a crucial first step in the right direction.
We know this needs to change. We, as a part of the 20% who own the world’s riches (95% of it), have the significant power/responsibility to rethink our ways – from diets to transport, to the way we consume, waste and our complacency to inequalities – if we are to enable our younger generations’ future. Because if the shambolic current state is the manifestation of a warming world from human activity, the harshest impacts will unfold into their lifetime, affecting their basic needs for food, shelter, energy.
So one thing is certain: Business as usual is no longer an option. Crisis, in ancient Greek, means “turning point”. And a choice. These challenging times are rife with opportunities, from investing in a low-carbon future to looking to naturefor inspiration: you can trust a complex system with billions of years’ experience in adaptation and resilience, for solutions.
From Droga5’s Flip Flopi Project directed by Simon & Ben
In this post-Paris Agreement, post #metoo era, we need transparency, enlightened leaders and responsible brands that benefit society and the planet as well as making profit. So how can we, the industry of communication and storytelling, be part of the solution?
“Selling the sizzle” matters more than ever. Because past the daily evidence of a rapidly changing world, we need to leave the doom and drama (which we know is ineffective in changing behaviours) to the mainstream media and politics and turn the spotlight to those who get it right (or are getting there).
Last year had some good stories, followed by recent ambitious planet positive pledges by corporate giants likeMicrosoft, Starbucks, Danone or Sky. But as the prime communicators both to brands and consumers, filmmakers and creatives are in a unique position to show the way and offer an accelerator to move at the scale and speed required.
Futerra’s guide also points out that between the Activists and the Cynics is the biggest part (apparently 80%) of humanity: who are people of goodwill but who are also entrenched in their own instinctual and flawed behaviours and lifestyles – which are arguably the biggest threat to the planet. It’s this audience that needs a little “Nudge” in the right direction.
From Rapha Women 2020 directed by Paola Morabito
Friends of the Earth, We’ve All Been There directed by Eoin Glaister, Stink Films. Agency: Don’t Panic
Still spot on with their messages after 51 years of activism.
Volvo & Sky Atlantic, The Birdman directed by D.A.R.Y.L, Pulse Films. Agency Grey London
This film nails the call to action and message of hope. Sky Atlantic just announced Sky Zero, and as for Volvo, we asked the questions and here’s their answer: “Here at Volvo Cars, we recognise that we are part of the problem when it comes to climate change, and we must be part of the solution. We were the first traditional carmaker to commit to all-out electrification and phasing out of cars powered only by an internal combustion engine. Further to that, we recently announced one of the most ambitious climate strategies in the automotive industry, which includes the aim for 50% of the cars we sell globally by 2025 to be pure electric”. It is worth noting that electric cars isn’t a silver bullet in itself as how the electricity is produced, as well as the batteries at scale, is also an area to focus on. Sustainability is a mindset, with a holistic approach needed to every part of the big picture.
Corona x Parley, Street Surfers directed by Arthur Neumeier, Eyeforce. Agency: King James Production
Pack mentality is also one of our most intrinsic features as a species, so it is no surprise that people who work and live in community and help each other live happier (sometimes longer, too).
Millican, Here directed by Sim Warren
Virginia Wolf wrote about the art of wandering outdoors, questioning whether the true sense of identity is what you stumble upon when you simply let go and let yourself be. Today some call it “active mindfulness”. Whichever way we analyse this, there is a very powerful link between mental health, and (re)connecting with our natural environment.
From Still I Rise directed by Camille Summers-Valli
E.Leclerc, Being a responsible consumer can be hard! directed by Ivan Grbovic, Wanda. Agency: BETC
Funny because it’s all so true. Coming from a large supermarket chain with a mixed profile it could raise some questions, but they are all under pressure (notably, consumer and policymakers) to change – and here acknowledge our everyday challenges.
Flip Flops Project, Plastic A Second Life directed by Simon & Ben. Agency: Droga 5 London
Although it is clear the strongest emphasis needs to be on Reduce, from resource use to consumption to waste (a third of the global food produced for human consumption goes to waste, and everyone has heard the projection of more plastic than fish in the ocean). This is a beautiful, creative and inspiring use of reuse and recycle and a vision of the circular economy for the plastics we can’t reduce.
IFAD (UN International Fund for Agricultural Development), Still I Rise directed by Camille Summers-Valli, Somesuch
IFAD tackles another systemic inequality: women, who currently make up 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, only receive 10% of agricultural aid. “With hunger rising over the past few years, women’s empowerment needs to be at the forefront of all development work,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, IFAD President. “Women are a cornerstone in building holistic and sustainable food systems. We all rise – men and women, communities and nations – when [all] women and girls who live in rural areas have equal access to resources.”
Rapha, Women 2020 directed by Paola Morabito, Knucklehead
Outdoors, physical exertion and sisterhood, a light reminder of what we’re naturally designed for: community, movement, clean air and outdoors.
Women of the City of Joy directed by Marc Silver, Annex Films
Besides being uplifting, it is a multidimensional message like very few others: the inspiring community of rape survivors reclaiming their lives -and more than that, JOY-, this is a wonderful illustration on how to THRIVE on a sustainable (ie. People-Planet-Profit) economy, how fashion (inherently unsustainable as an industry) can implement those necessary changes and still be a celebration of life and beautiful garment! Pure Joy. More about the brand here.
Tam Tam, Outside the Lines directed by Greg Hackett, Spindle
This film highlights a systemic inequality, the power of community and the public’s voice well. Never underestimate the power of your own voice and actions. A sustainability expert said this “should be turned into a campaign for all the stateless children, and shown in all schools to children who don’t have this problem and who do not realise how valuable their opportunities are”.
We look forward to seeing more films and stories inspiring us towards that bright path. Please send to Amelie Lambert (email@example.com).