Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shocking Ad Shows Polar Bears Plummeting to Their Deaths

Hundreds of polar bears hurtle from the sky and land with a thud in a deserted city center—it's not a bad horror film, it's a new ad from airline pollution activists Plane Stupid.

The ad features CGI polar bears plummeting from the sky, some hitting the edges of buildings, before making a blood-spattered landing on car rooftops and sidewalks. The scene is accompanied only by the bone-crunching sounds of the bears landing, and the crescendo of an airplane’s jet engine.

The video’s message is this: "An average European flight produces over 400 kilograms of greenhouse gases for every passenger. That's the weight of an adult polar bear."

The makers of the ad hope to shock people into action.

“We wanted to confront people with the impact that short-haul flights have on the climate,” Robert Saville, a director at Mother, the ad agency that developed the video, told The Guardian. “We used polar bears because they are a well understood symbol of the effect that climate change is having on the natural world.”

The ad, which debuted in movie theaters across the UK and online Friday, November 20th, has been garnering a lot of attention and criticism.

“Plane Stupid's own powerful imagery threatens to weaken their message” wrote Gazelle Emami in The Huffington Post’s Green Blog. “The imagery of polar bears falling to their deaths is a hard one to relate to and might get you sympathizing more with the polar bears than with their cause.”

Ed Gillespie, co-director of the sustainable communications agency Futerra, also weighed in on The Guardian’s Environment Blog:

“The danger is that by pumping up the high octane drama of an ad, you increase the risk of viewers feeling manipulated and dismissing it as pure propaganda. Or lapsing into highly questionable failures of tact and taste in pursuit of 'edginess’.”

What do you think? Do you think that the ad serves a purpose or loses its message?

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