It’s always on all of our wish lists to work with clients that deliver real cultural, societal or environmental impact. It’s a way of trying to balance out all the highly commercial work we do. Many brands attempt to weave a worthy objective into their business. So, when you come across a campaign for a client, whose focus is entirely cultural, societal and environmental, and has impact big, you take notice.
In 2015, the Geometry Global team (now part of VMLYR) had the privilege of working with WWF’s Hong Kong offices to help challenge the country’s attitudes towards the ivory trade.
In Cantonese, ivory literally translates to ‘elephant tooth’, and for generations this wording has defined how the people of Hong Kong have seen the removal of elephant tusks, as opposed to the deadly reality. Hong Kong is the world capital for the ivory trade, with a direct link to China, which accounts for 70% of demand.
The purpose of the campaign – to apply pressure on the HK government to enact change – focused on shifting the perspective of the general population and in turn build a wave of advocacy. In typical WWF style, image and word both hit hard, as a means of cutting through, backed up with truthful accounts and information that struck a chord.
WWF also invited the people of Hong Kong to create a new word in place of the existing. The result translating to ‘tooth of life’. The competition, operating across social, created a greater level of awareness and the buy-in through new word creation was a stroke of genius. The result: a massive petition to the HK government that it couldn’t ignore.
In 2016, the government enacted a new law to kill off the ivory trade in Hong Kong, in turn saving the lives of tens of thousands of elephants. A 4,000 year old word was replaced and a country’s cultural shift proved how campaigns can bring positive change to our world.
Murphy’s Last Orders.
At the tail end of 1995, the seminal anime movie Ghost in the Shell was given it’s UK release. The neo-noir cyberpunk thriller is set in 2029 Japan and follows public security agents hunting a nefarious hacker.
Murphy’s Irish Stout has a similar setting: Cork.
These two entities should not overlap in any way. But, in 1997 the 60-second tv spot for Murphy’s titled “Last Orders” aired and featured Tokugawa era samurai racing through a cyberpunk megacity filled with scenes that would make Blade Runner blush. At the end of this mad dash? The samurai drink a bottle of Murphy’s each and leave, having just narrowly made last orders before the pub closes.
This project was commissioned by the British agency Nexus productions, who must have been so inspired by Ghost in the Shell that they directly contacted the Japanese studio who made it: Production I.G.
The studio wrangled together the biggest names in anime feature production at the time to create this masterpiece and was the first anime-style ad ever aired in the UK. Presumably others had been aired in Ireland.
What makes this ad so amazing is that it all should just be impossible. How do you get the biggest anime production house to make a minute long ad for a stout predominantly consumed in Cork? Why do you get the biggest anime production house to make a minute long ad for a stout predominantly consumed in Cork? The stout itself doesn’t even feature for 43 seconds. Up until then, we are engrossed in a setting and a style. For 7 full seconds, we watch a one-eyed, one-legged man ring a bell using an 1850’s cannon.
And then, as dramatically as it had started, it’s over. A whole world created in the time it takes a pint to settle.