At first glance, Greenpeace’s new ad seems like a spare clip from Creature Comforts. Depicting a normal day in the life of a family of turtles, and featuring wonderfully chirpy voices from the likes of Olivia Colman, it perfectly captures the everyday charm of the long-running animated TV series.
However, in this instance, the happy scenes quickly turn harrowing, as the ad depicts what should be a normal migration journey for the turtles going terribly wrong.
Greenpeace has become known for using bold adverts and headline-grabbing stunts to directly criticise various products and companies. In recent years, the organisation has condemned drinks brands like Coca-Cola, fuel companies like Shell and BP, and resources more generally, as per 2018’s Rang-tan Christmas ad, which implored the public to stop buying products containing palm oil.
Here, it has taken a more toned-down, subtle approach, using charm to push home the ad’s message about the state of our oceans. The spot will likely pull at plenty of heartstrings (or play on our sense of guilt), since many viewers will inevitably associate this animation style with the warmth and innocence seen across many of Aardman’s treasured animations, including Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep.
The ad comes amid Greenpeace’s push for a new Global Ocean Treaty to be considered at this year’s UN summit, and coincides with the publication of a report, Turtles Under Threat, that looks at the risks faced by sea turtles.
“I’m thrilled to have worked on this heartbreaking film with Greenpeace and Aardman – it’s so important,” said Olivia Colman, who voices the mother in the turtle family, in a statement. “Our oceans face so many threats, some I wasn’t even aware of before this, and sadly the story of this turtle family trying to get home in a damaged and changing ocean is a reality for so many marine creatures that are having their habitats destroyed by human activities. I hope this film inspires more people to take action to protect our oceans.”
Production company: Aardman Animations
Director: Gavin Strange