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The Green Screen

Posted on December 7, 2009 and read 2,077 times

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marcstoiber The Green ScreenMarc Stoiber
Founder
Change

 

Four years ago I turned my back on mainstream advertising and founded Change.

So much of what we do at my agency takes place ‘upstream’ from advertising (product design, operations, packaging, etc) that it’s easy to lose sight of the terrific innovation that’s happening within the green ad field.

A few years back, the green ads I saw were all maudlin, doom and gloom affairs. They banked heavily on shock value, and went pretty light on insight. It seemed like someone had given all the Brazilian junior teams pro bono briefs like ‘shock the world into thinking pollution is bad…without using words’. After the first 20 ads, the pattern became pretty apparent.

Today, the ad world is still cluttered with crap like the 9/11 scam ads – oversimplistic, shock value stuff. But, I’m happy to say, there is a growing tide of extremely smart work out there…work I’d kill to have done myself.

I picked 11 of these ads to profile today. I hope to make this ‘green screen’ a regular affair, so if I missed your favorite, let me know and we’ll see if we can include it in the next installment.

I’d like to thank Lorne Craig, Jason McCormick and Robin Brown for helping with their top picks this time around.

 

1. Audi Economy Drive

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This is a beautifully shot, completely fresh take on a very simple concept – when your car stops, the energy it uses should stop as well. The ad makes me feel Audi understands design, and understands the sophistication of its audience.

2. Canadian Tourism Federation

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You know spoof ads, because they never really get the rip off right. But this ad comes close. It’s a Canadian Tourism Federation ad encouraging tourists to visit the ‘better, warmer’ Canada. The shots, from the water angle canoe paddle by to the wheat field kid swinger, really nail the cliches. Even the website (a front that clicks through to the true climate change message) makes me do a double take. The only downside? I can see folks south of the border looking at the ad and booking their tickets to Canada for a warm November getaway.

3. VW Fun Theory Piano Stairs

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A big winner on the viral video circuit. Smart, smart, smart work. And reinforcement of the idea that people can change if they feel like it (profound thought, isn’t it). I can even see this ad selling VW’s – I believe I’d feel like a smarter, more fun-loving version of myself if I saw this and drove a Golf.

4. Method – Shiny Suds

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I love Method’s ‘People against dirty’ campaign. I love their product design. I love the way they’ve given status quo cleaners a kick up the scrubber. This new commercial made me laugh out loud. Nothing beats stripper humor – especially coming from soap bubbles.

5. Fiat Eco-Drive

fiat 454x261 The Green Screen

OK, not a video. It’s a website. But I love the european animation, and the way it made me think about the way I drive without making me think about the way I drive. It’s humorous, flawlessly executed, and smart. Show’s that there’s plenty of room for craft on the green frontier.

6. Footprint Chronicles

footprint 468x80 The Green Screen

I talk about the Footprint Chronicles all the time with clients who are afraid of being less than perfectly green. It’s a great example of the new mentality among conscious consumers and their favorite companies. Monologue is out, dialogue is in. Brand perfection is out, brand honesty and commitment to improvement is in.

7. Sunchips Compostable Bag

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I first saw this ad this summer at the Sustainable Brands conference. It was testimony to the fact that corporations were not arguing climate science anymore, but getting on with the business of green innovation. The insight of creating a compostable bag for lazy junk foodies is genius. The concept of shooting it composting is excellent – because nobody in their right mind would’ve thought it was possible to make one of these bags actually compost to nothing. Truth is way more impressive than fiction!

8. Reciclatorii

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Bumped into this one by mistake. A beautifully animated, NFB meets Mastodon metal take on cutting down trees. Yes, it is all about a cause, not a brand. But dogs peeing on people to heavy metal music transcends all the cliches, so I thought it might be a keeper for the file.

9. Falling polar bears

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Now we’re on the subject of cause ads that use shock to impress – something I hate – this ad pummels through the clutter. It’s simply so realistic in its horror, so gut churning, that I couldn’t look away. I don’t see myself looking at it again and again (unlike, say, the Piano stairway spot), but it makes the other ‘shock and awe’ ads look pale and contrived.

10. Energy efficient light bulb

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A beautiful, gentle spot that actually tells us something fresh and new. Even if we’re being good, the industrial supply chain isn’t. It’s a new way of looking at the same point as Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles. What I liked about it was its gentle tone and non-accusatory manner. We’ve all created this system. We all have to take blame and look for answers together.

11. National Film Board Waterlife

waterlife 467x231 The Green Screen

Last but not least, an absolutely beautiful promo site for a new documentary from the National Film Board of Canada. I just wanted to sit and look at the damn thing again and again. Every day I say a silent prayer of thanks for great designers in our world. A few of them worked on this project.

Marc Stoiber is founder of Change, a green innovation brand agency in Vancouver, Canada. You can reach him at marc@changebiz.com






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