World Oceans Day: Greenpeace uses humour to push tale of woe, Sealord uses augmented reality to push positives—UPDATE

In a world where celebrity weddings tend to get more attention than serious environmental issues, it’s getting harder to avoid the curse of MEGO (my eyes glaze over). That means drawing attention to such issues often requires a more creative approach, which is exactly what Greenpeace has done ahead of World Oceans day through a collaboration with the creators of popular online video series Beached Az. 

The previous clips have entertained millions of online viewers. But in the latest clip the whale has been killed off to highlight the bane of marine life everywhere, “plistuc”, and the declining health of the oceans. 

“We just want all the cuzzies and bros out there to know that the ocean’s getting pretty sick and it’s time we all took notice, so we don’t have to kill off any more cartoon whales,” says Beached Az producer Anthony MacFarlane in a release. “It’s been pretty traumatic”. 

Greenpeace is known more for its serious, confrontational campaigns, like Oil on Canvas after the Rena oil spill, or its aggressive anti-drilling campaigns targeting Shell and Gazprom (and the associated punking of media outlets). But while campaign team leader Lagi Toribau says the video still has serious undertones, it hopes the humour will get the message out there in a different way to engage New Zealanders for World Oceans Day.

“We hope that a few more Kiwis look at ways they can make a difference. Sharing the video will help us to get the message out there. But there are also simple things like eating sustainable seafood, reducing your use of plastic and even keeping your car well serviced to prevent oil leaks. They all help to improve the health of our oceans.” 


DDB NZ’s ex-executive creative director Andy Fackrell approached the Beached Az producers after being shocked by the lack of fish caught at a fishing competition in his hometown of Whakatane. A feature article read by him shortly afterwards in the Sydney Morning Herald, entitled, ‘The Ocean is Broken’ propelled him into action. 

“We hatched a plan that would play off the existing Beached Az success; a tactic to raise as much awareness as possible. The team across the ditch quickly agreed that anything to bring more attention to the critical state of the Pacific was worth it, so we quickly started collaborating on a script and got it to Greenpeace.”

While Greenpeace is using humour to draw attention the problems, linking to research that shows “60 percent of all fish stocks are now over fished, that plastics consistently make up 60-80 percent of all marine debris in the ocean and the the oceans have become 30 percent more acidic due to increased CO2 levels”, Sealord is pushing a very different message for World Oceans Day, with a virtual experience at Auckland’s Downtown Shopping Centre aimed at showing its “leadership in sustainable fishing”. 

Today, Auckland commuters were able to swim with sharks and dodge schools of hoki and unsuspecting passersby could interact with the virtual ocean and see themselves under the sea on a large screen.  

According to a release, this is the first time a live interactive augmented reality experience has been used in New Zealand. 

“We can’t take everyone out on our boats to see how we look after the sea, but we can bring the sea to the people”, says Graham Stuart, Sealord chief executive. “We have a generation of technologically savvy New Zealanders. One way to get important messages out to them is through creative use of technology.”

The release says:

The experience illustrates the steps taken to ensure Sealord hoki is sustainable and meets the requirements for the internationally-recognised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. The New Zealand hoki fishery has maintained the MSC’s high standard for sustainability since 2001 and has been certified a record number of three times. The MSC ecolabel can be seen on certified sustainable fresh, canned and frozen fish in stores. 

“Sealord is showing tremendous leadership,” says Charlotte Connell, communications manager at the Marine Stewardship Council. “Their entire range of hoki products will soon be proudly marked with our blue ecolabel, giving New Zealanders that extra assurance their seafood is sustainable.” 

After Sealord released its first ever brand campaign a couple of years ago, Greenpeace released a spoof video. 

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