Our year in blogs…Posted by ed in blog December 23, 2009
Well…what a year 2009 was, and to mark its passing I thought I’d trace its passage through the highlights, top insights, gripes, rants and moans from the Futerra blog! The start of the year found us in confused mode, we had reasons to be fearful but also great cause for hope, thanks to the election of Obama Stateside (a campaign which certainly generated some entertaining tactical ads).
It was another year that has seen Futerrans speculating on where the real strengths of communications around sustainability lie, Dave likening it to buried treasure and asking ‘what is the colour of climate change?’, while musically minded Jeff concentrated on the soundtrack of sustainability (I had a couple of suggestions for this too! Nature Anthem and the Peak Oil Funk)
One again we’ve prided ourselves on staying one step ahead of the game, whether it was through providing constructive critiques of high profile campaigns like that of Shell, our forward-thinking approach to attending (or rather not attending!) conferences, highlighting rather blatantly nicked ideas or tackling logistical challanges faced by small ethical businesses when our former office manager (we miss you Doug!) took on the might of Dell to try and get them to accept responsibility for their old equipment.
2009 also saw the appearance of a number of new bits of zeitgeisty vocabulary; Banksters, Fauxlanthropy, Netro-socialising and Conspicuous austerity (which Soli thought she’d invented for a moment!). Perhaps more controversial were my own attempts to popularise ‘frucool’ through my Guardian blogs about beer and biking.
There were a number of brilliant campaigns that we admired too, from campaigns that were sexy, or involved creative use of the naked human form, to more wholesome approaches with impressive ambition like 1 Million Women. We took our hats off to our taut-thighed friends cycling round the world to raise awareness of solar power, the creativity of the ‘Glove Love’ campaign from the ever cool dothegreenthing gang and the fantastic interventions of ‘The Fun Theory’. Malwaian wind turbine builders humbled us, Seth Godin’s video blog about crazy festival dancing and tipping points amused us and ‘The life you can save’ instantly made me donate my 1% to Oxfam.
Other inspiration came from the Arch-Druid of Canterbury and his many eloquent speeches on climate change during the year, the ever powerful Paul Hawken’s stirring address to the next graduating generation, Nick Stern’s potent economic arguments in ‘Blueprint for a Safer Planet’ and our mate Nick Cobbing’s incredible Arctic photos. And no summary of 2009 would be complete without a mention of the tireless work of definitely ‘not stupid’ Franny Armstrongand her pioneering 10:10 campaign that we hope to see big things from in the months to come.
It wasn’t all good out there though, there were also some truly awful campaigns too! From what is probably the most terrible corporate viral ever, to the half-baked kak-handedness of the FACES campaign (both from the US clean coal lobby), there were also a plethora of efforts hijacking the imagery of the poor old polar bear. Whether it was plummeting bone-crunchingly from the sky in the Plane Stupid ads or frolicking on a beach in the Canaries, our ursine friends were in big demand in adland. Then there was the ‘stop climate change or the puppy gets it’ ads from ACTonCO2…all of which seem to continue to embody Soli’s four myths of climate behaviour change.
As businesses suffered in the credit crunch Jeff mused in caffeine fuelled fashion on the lessons that the hot black stuff (coffee that is) could teach us, but the underlying message to support the ailing materialist economy was still ‘buy more shit or we’re all fucked’!
Trend analysis predicted the rise of the ‘greenager’, the police employed ever weirder tactics to clamp down on environmental protestors, Futerra turned eight years old and we received a highly original job application from across the pond. Greenwash was still rearing it’s unattractive head too. Tesco’s air miles for low energy lightbulbs faux pas, Ryness’s resistance to phasing out incandescents, swapping airmiles for mobiles, encouraging short-haul flights over video-conferencing, dubious eco-claims from Finnair, griping about eco-bin-taxes and a frankly hilarious ‘greenwash’ Humvee were just some of the horrific examples we came across. I even had my first experience of ‘astro-turfing’.
Futerra was also out and about a lot this year, taking the Earthly Sins Confessional Booth back to Glastonbury for the 3rd time, hosting a day at the London Design Festival’s ‘Greengaged’ event, giving a sermon at the School of Life and offering a provocation on the ‘Future of Green’ to name but a very small few from the many events we’ve spoken at or media programmes we’ve contributed to (such as Ed on Radio 5, or Soli in PR Week.
Then of course there’s COP15 and the final part of the year which saw the irritating and corrosive resurgence of climate denial (although we should have seen this coming if this was anything to go by!), leading me to speculate on the five stages of denial and for us to receive a lot of hatemail and abusive ranting.
Despite initial early optimism about the recipe for success at Copenhagen it didn’t stop me having my first experience of climate change rage. Although that cut both ways as high profile deniers also accused climate change protestors of being like the ‘Hitler Youth’. Arch-pranksters the ‘Yes Men’ brought some focused levity…but the tone of the conference was pretty much set by the opening film the delegates saw – scenes of disaster, doom and gloom. Soli attempted to lighetn things up with some climate change haiku, but sadly success was ultimately to prove elusive…
If you needed something to raise your spirits there were a few avenues through which you could release pent-up tension, laughing at the BBC’s wildife video, playing our ‘COP Climate Sceptic Clout ‘Em Game’ or listening to Marcus Brigstocke’s Dr Seuss poem.
Finally there was of course our ‘Sizzle’ report, hopefully bringing some light into the darkness. Positive visions of a possible future have to be the way forward in 2010…as this cartoon put it…what if we fixed the world for nothing next year?!
Here’s to sizzling in the Tenties. Festive best to all