Publicis Mojo’s potent multi-platform Greenpeace protest

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Publicis Mojo‘s latest multi-platform campaign for Greenpeace is a simple yet stunning piece of PR. It is starkly original, emotive and extremely powerful. And, with everything from pop-up art galleries to support from Radiohead, we reckon this campaign is, if you’ll excuse our Rainbow Warrior French, pretty fucking good.

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On 5 October 2011, New Zealand suffered its worst ever maritime environmental disaster. The MV Rena cargo ship ran aground near Tauranga and spilled 350 tonnes of oil into the Bay of Plenty, killing 20,000 birds. As tragic as that was, a deep sea oil spill could be over 1000 times worse. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,  in April 2010, saw 627,000 tonnes of oil spilled over three months and it continues to leak fresh oil today.

Yet in their infinite wisdom, and in the noble pursuit of furthering international relations, the New Zealand government has welcomed foreign oil companies into our waters to prospect for deep sea oil. They promised it would be safe, and that they could control any environmental impact from an oil spill.

To emphasise the risks of deep-sea oil, Greenpeace asked Publicis Mojo Auckland to use the Rena oil spill as an example of the potential hazards. Hundreds of posters and ten canvas artworks were created using the oil covered bodies of birds killed during the disaster both as a memorial, and a warning against a much greater catastrophe. Each print was an original, made with actual birds and oil from Rena.

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These real oil prints were put up as street posters, and a pop-up art gallery was opened on 12 December 2011 in central Auckland. The Oil On Canvas exhibition is open until 18 December, at 2 Queen Street, on the corner of Quay and Queen St. An ideal spot for foot traffic from the Ferry Building, and Britomart’s bus and train terminals. It is a stark memorial to the 20,000 birds killed by the Rena oil spill in the Bay of Plenty and a warning against the much greater risk that Greenpeace believes deep sea oil drilling poses in NZ waters. The prints were created using the body of a little blue penguin dipped in the oil that killed it following the Rena disaster. The price of entry was simply to sign the petition.

One of the ten canvas prints is up for grabs as a competition prize.  But the future of the others, and the hundreds of prints, is still being decided. Exceutive creative director Mike Barnwell says the exhibition may tour the country. Te Papa could be given one.

“There is also a chance the public could buy them – one idea is to auction them off, possibly on the anniversary of the disaster, to raise/recoup funds for the cause,” says Barnwell.

Mojo also created a TVC using the images of the prints, set to music donated by Radiohead. Barnwell says it was all very much a team effort.

“We were looking at the Greenpeace website when we saw a picture of Thom Yorke, Radiohead’s lead singer, standing on board the Rainbow Warrior II.  We knew we wanted a big track, and it needed to be from a band like Radiohead. So when we saw that – it was the obvious answer. But it wasn’t easy. We had to get copyright permission from everyone, including the record companies… in fact the artist is the last person in a long line, but in the end they all said yes, and Thom Yorke was really supportive.”

Individual direct marketing packs with sealed oil prints were dispatched to media and celebrities, along with ready-to-post protest petitions.


Creatives: Mike Barnwell, Guy Denniston, Lachlan McPherson
Production Company: Flying Fish
Director: James Solomon
Producer: Angela da Silva
Agency production: Conan Gorbey
Editor: Lisa Greenfield
Post production: Andrew Timms, Mat Ellin
Agency Producer: Liz Garneau
Music rights: Tim Moon of Media Music ltd

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