Shreyas Kulkarni

Earth Day: Greta Thunberg and Nat Geo lead the way

From a video that brought to life Thunberg's words 'Our House is on Fire', to Nat Geo's interactive AR-enabled cover....

Earth Day is when all brands feel they're 'Captain Planet' – the animated environmentalist superhero of the 1990s. Every year, we are bombarded with ads and communication on themes, ranging from water scarcity to plastic pollution to climate change to wildlife and more.

But, often, many of these are more of a 'force' than a genuine fit. One can't blame the brands, though. Earth Day is a fabulous opportunity to attract eyeballs and generate high levels of brand recall.

This year, too, we saw several such brand communication. We're, however, focusing on only two of them because we felt these two were the best of the lot and truly showed how the future may look as a result of unchecked climate change. And, despite the lockdown and quarantine, the execution was better than the other ads and brand communication that we saw.

The first is from Fridays For Future, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg's organisation. It released a fiery video that literally brought her words 'Our House is on Fire' to life. Created by FF Los Angeles, the statement 'You can't take your eyes away' holds true here.

The video features a woman, who wakes up, while her husband is asleep. She opens the curtains to wake up the kids, a boy and a girl. The kids brush their teeth and then enter the dining area, as the woman prepares breakfast. Next, the entire family is seen sharing a laugh at the table. We then see the woman pack lunch boxes and the couple say goodbye to the kids, as they head to school.

A simple ad, but with a difference.

The house the family was in was on fire all throughout.

The video ends with the message, 'Our House is on Fire. React.'

Had the ad been from a regular brand, many people would have passed it off as causevertising. The fact that it's from Fridays For Future makes it stand out because it has been instrumental in spearheading the fight against climate change. Thunberg, 17, was named Time Person of The Year in 2019 for her efforts on climate change. That's why this ad matters.

The second Earth Day-related communication comes from National Geographic, which released an interactive and first-ever augmented reality-enabled cover, using Instagram's SPARK AR feature.

Nat Geo director of Instagram Josh Raab told Adweek, “We have been excited about AR and immersive storytelling for a long time, but it’s been largely inaccessible to a lot of people. This will be available to everybody, not just Nat Geo followers.”

When users launch the interactive feature via the Instagram profile, a digital version of the magazine is launched.

According to Nat Geo, you can pinch to adjust the size, and to enjoy the experience, just click on a flat surface.

Earth Day: Greta Thunberg and Nat Geo lead the way

A globe rises out of the cover, with the headline 'What will the world feel like in 2070?'. Because the globe is a 3D model, users can stand up and walk around it while it rotates. AR is best experienced when users physically move around the digital object, rather than using their fingers to move it on their phones.

Earth Day: Greta Thunberg and Nat Geo lead the way

Twelve yellow dots on the globe represent 12 cities, and when you click on any dot, the present climatic condition of that city is revealed. A line is then drawn from that city across the globe to a place that’s projected to have the same climate in 50 years.

By using an interactive feature, and not resorting to stock images or archived footage, Nat Geo has made quite an impact on Earth Day.