Local creatives unpack Sea Shepherd's anti-whaling campaign with a twist

By Lucy Carroll | 18 August 2015

The Works' confronting ad for marine conservation society Sea Shepherd aims to shock, provoke and bring attention to the cause. But does it work?

We spoke to a handful of local creatives about the independent agency's latest effort, which sees Australian actor David Field humanise the death of a whale by being chased, harpooned and violently killed.

If you haven't seen the film you can watch it below:

Kelly Boulton, from new brand agency Guts Creative, said while the creative is “brilliant,” she questions whether it will translate into donations for the activist organisation.

“I think it’s a really clever approach to personify the animal with a human actor. It cuts through the lack of empathy that people get by oversaturation of these issues,” Boulton said.

“But my question is are people going to click to donate? It’s definitely going to make people think about it and talk about it… but the challenge will be to get people to contribute because they felt something.”

Clemenger BBDO Sydney’s executive creative director Paul Nagy agrees the ad is a powerful one, and will shake people out of the “lethargy” that occurs from an abundance of similar charity ads.

“It’s amazing how quickly things become wallpaper to human beings. You can see something so awful but often you don’t see it at all. As storytellers we are always looking for different ways to tell stories and to snap viewers out of drone watching. This ad does that,” Nagy said.

Nagy agreed with Boulton that humanizing the animal is the key to the film’s success.

“Organisations like World Vision and other brilliant charities just can’t keep doing their ads the same way. The clever thing about this is we are forced to see whaling from a new point of view.”

Despite the positives, Nagy said certain elements of the film could be improved. He said the Ultimate Death Scene title sequence and the voiceover at the end were both unnecessary.

“I’m not sure what the [title scene] is delivering. If it just started with the actor alone on stage it would have been far more interesting. And the voiceover is basically a repetition what you’ve just seen – that you would feel differently if savage attacks on whales were done to humans.”

“But the idea is really good. You couldn’t look away if you saw that on television. Nine out of ten boxes are ticked,” Nagy said.

Creative director at Loud, Paul Bennell, agrees that one of the “biggest issues facing charities is apathy.

“It's hard to shock people. You’ve got to somehow turn that apathy into outrage and get people to donate. Whether or not it’s enough I don’t know. But it’s a good ad and very watchable. Personifying the animal really works.”

Bennell said while Field’s performance was “very powerful”, he questioned if he has the “celebrity status” to leverage the cause.

“Maybe it would have been better with another actor that has more weight that can do the heavy lifting in terms of getting it out to the masses,” he said.

When the ad was released in July, The Works creative partner Paul Swann said the film aims to build awareness about whaling and encourage donations to Sea Shepherd.

“Those who care about marine wildlife really feel something deeply when they see whaling taking place; we sought to harness this feeling to generate the maximum impact,” Swann said.

“The idea of a human experiencing what a whale does combined with a graphic execution will come to life across video, social, radio and print.”

Did you catch these too? Aussie creatives unpack Harvey Nichols ad and The truth in advertising: Aussie creatives unpack Pampers.


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