Founded in 1971, Greenpeace has famously been campaigning against environmental destruction for decades. 

Throughout the independent organization’s existence, its mission has never deviated: 

Promote radical changes and new solutions to the way we live on this planet – so we can all call it home for generations to come.

In an attempt to shed light on the environmental implications of our food choices, Greenpeace recently released its own take on a Christmas ad: a video centering around a comedy “roast” battle between a turkey and a potato. 

Greenpeace’s timely “The Ultimate Roast Battle” has clearly hit the mark, and it comes down to having the right ingredients baked in from the beginning. 

Here we delve into exactly what makes this radically different Christmas campaign so right. 

The Insight 

The UK’s appetite for eating Turkey is unsustainable. 

And the need to act to protect our planet has never been so urgent: due to the effects of climate change, we’ll witness more changes to our air, sea levels and more extreme weather events than ever before. 

Yet many consumers don’t consider the sustainability of their food choices before tucking into their roast turkey Christmas meal. 

Greenpeace UK estimates an area of land the size of Glasgow is needed to grow enough soya to feed the 10 million turkeys eaten by Brits at Christmas time each year. 

In consequence, the agricultural industry has become reliant on soybeans for animal feed. But most of the UK’s soya isn’t grown locally, with two-thirds of supply imported from South America. 

Worryingly, a report from IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative say the deforestation attributed to growing soya in the South American region is having a detrimental effect on the continent.

Although 11% of consumers in the UK cite being interested in vegan food, and 18% say they’re interested in vegetarian food, this is by no means a majority, or even half. 

To avoid further deforestation, consumers in greater numbers have to pledge not to consume Turkey at Christmas time. 

But they first need to know why. 

The Message

Producing greater amounts of cheap meat and dairy is accelerating climate change and destroying forests. Help conserve our natural environment and eat vegetarian this Christmas.

Created by Nice and Serious, the ad opens with the turkey saying: “It’s great to be here roasting the ‘humble’ potato. People call it a ‘staple food’ because you’d rather staple your lips shut than eat it.”

To which the potato replies: “Well that’s rich, considering people only eat turkey for one day of the year. Probably because they need the other 364 for their mouths to rehydrate.”

The two continue to crack jokes at each other’s expense, until things get more serious. In a surprise turn, the potato takes the roast ‘too far’, explaining the environmental impact it takes to feed turkeys, exposing the ultimate Christmas conspiracy.

Greepeace says its strategy is to “intervene at the point where our action is most likely to provoke positive change”.

But it knew that simply making people feel guilty about their Christmas dinner wouldn’t motivate them to change their behaviour. 

Expertly using humor as a vehicle to engage viewers and get the message across, the piece ends – with consumers being left to contemplate a poignant message about sustainability.

Chiara Vitali, forest campaigner at Greenpeace UK, believes that through science – and education – UK consumers will continue to become more mindful about the impact of their food choices on the planet. 

Urging supermarkets to set the example by selling more plant-based alternatives, Chiara says “we can all make a choice to eat less meat” because the world’s top scientists say it’s vital to prevent climate breakdown.

Why it Worked

The food sustainability debate continues to dominate the news agenda – which makes the timing of Greenpeace’s ad perfect. 

It’s no longer an option for brands or organizations to ignore sustainability issues

In a bespoke study we ran of consumers in U.S. and UK, 52% believed the responsibility lies with manufacturers or production bodies.

Even more tellingly, 2 in 3 consumers think brands that make a public promise to be sustainable are more trustworthy.

There’s ample opportunity for organizations and brands to win favor with the right approach – one that’s less harmful to the environment.

Media stories and documentaries are among the most influential sources impacting consumers’ views on sustainability – so it’s no surprise Greenpeace chose to spread its message via video format.

Peter Larkin, creative director at Nice and Serious, shed some light behind his team’s decision to get the point across in a less than expected way: “With the rise in popularity of comedy roast battles, we realised we had the perfect characters to create the ultimate showdown.”

With the sustainability movement already in motion, Greenpeace’s message avoids coming across as too extreme (potentially alienating the very people it meant to influence.)

Meanwhile, word is spreading: as on social media, the campaign continues to attract PR coverage, by the likes of Creative Review, The Drum, Campaign, PR Week and MailOnline so far.

The true strength of the campaign is in the unexpected angle – it manages to cut through the noise and harness our attention in an altogether obscure way. While the video could have shown various scenes of the destruction, Greenpeace chose to put a comedic spin on news which is not always easy to digest.

And with millennials more eco- conscious than ever (and Generation Z close on their trail) social media has so far played a significant role in influencing consumers’ views on sustainability and the environment.

The average social media feed is now full of content which showcases the impact our consumption habits are having on the planet.

As sustainability climbs increasingly higher on the agenda of consumers, not just in influencing their loyalty for a brand, but also playing a more vital role in their purchasing decisions, we pay kudos to Greenpeace. 

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