Lovers helped Greenpeace lead a global campaign to raise universal support to protect the planet’s oceans. Our creative platform and campaign toolkit empowered Greenpeace teams all around the world to make noise, earn attention, win public backing and speak truth to power, influencing the behaviour of governments and businesses.
Since 1971 Greenpeace have worked tirelessly to keep the natural world front of mind for people, politicians and businesses. The need for this work grows more urgent each year, but the challenge also gets tougher as the global communication environment becomes noisier and messier, with audiences easily distracted.
The oceans cover 70% of the surface of our planet and yet they feel quite distant and intangible to most of us. Faraway and endlessly powerful, surely these vast places don’t need our attention? They do. Over decades, the oceans have been exploited, degraded and ransacked by reckless groups and now they face new threats such as deep sea mining and acidification from climate change. Out of sight and out of mind — they’re dying.
In 2019 Greenpeace briefed Lovers to define the creative approach and visual identity for a global campaign intended to last not weeks, but years. Our mission: inspire humanity to legislate protection for the oceans, starting with the Antarctic. Spoiler: we succeeded!
Our end game was clear: win enough global, public love and support for the oceans that it could be converted into political pressure, leading to the agreement of legally protected areas of ocean. We had to find a creative approach that would build ocean love and relatability amongst land-dwelling humans everywhere, despite living worlds apart.
If that sounds soft, we also needed some hard-edged urgency. This campaign would have to go toe-to-toe with resistant politicians and complacent industry representatives. We needed bite. And visual standout, to separate our message from other Greenpeace campaigns and the broader oceans movement. This needed to be a campaign overflowing with hope and persistence, running for years — patiently, beautifully, never losing energy.
Lastly, Greenpeace folks are spread out all over the world. We’d need to provide some kind of toolkit we could distribute globally, empowering volunteers without design skills or software in some cases. We needed to be ultra practical, accessible and translatable.
We’re big believers in visual distinctiveness and consistency when communicating with mass audiences, so we knew we had to find a unique visual approach for this campaign. As we swam off into creative research we found ourselves listening to a piece of audio recorded by the BBC relaying the creaky, groaning, crackling icebergs of the Antarctic, captured using special hydrophones. We were mesmerised by their weird beauty. And then a glaciologist’s voice came on, describing the way colour works in the Antarctic:
“Because it reflects and refracts light, it’s a bit like walking into a shop full of diamonds. You get pink skies, purple ice and green horizons. All sorts of magical colours that are just completely alien to us here in the northern hemisphere”.
This gave us tingles. In their brief Greenpeace had warned of something they called “blue and white fatigue” in relation to ocean communications. People constantly depicted the ocean as just… blue. And the Antarctic as just… white. Almost everything oceans-related looked like this. But here we were being given a clue about how to completely reorientate our audience to this world they’ve never visited, and would probably never visit. We could make it otherworldly in a loveable way. Magical.
Strategy & Approach
For the campaign’s visual toolkit we chose to portray the Antarctic as a magical place you want to understand more and help protect. To double-down on those warm feelings, we would lean into an age-old Greenpeace maxim that so-called “charismatic megafauna” (big, visible, loveable creatures) really help melt hearts. We would explore placing a creature like this at the centre of the campaign.
But as well as embracing beauty and magic, showing the Antarctic in new and unexpected ways, we set out to give our identity plenty of punch so it could work hard to get its demands met. For this we got interested in the gigantic and brutally powerful typography often seen on the sides of huge shipping containers and trawlers. We wanted to capture some of this strength at sea, transferring power to the oceans via our campaign.
We combined a “pink skies, purple ice, green horizons” colour palette, using rich, swooping colour gradients to imply the deep, biodiversity-rich oceans as places glowing with life and deserving of protection. At the centre of the campaign we drew a charming penguin whooshing through its native Antarctic oceans, protected by a gentle dotted halo zone. These elements combine with a bespoke typeface we called ‘Sanctuary’ inspired by that hard-edged, huge trawler typographic language.
We collated all of these elements into a digitally-hosted toolkit, designed and built to grant global access to the toolkit’s full library of elements. This was supported with guidance and demonstration, empowering teams all around the world to create comms at short notice. Combined with the idea of inspiring oceans of ocean love, the toolkit was complete, balancing salty and sweet aspects for flexible application depending on context.
Once we had the Antarctic sorted, we expanded the campaign toolkit to celebrate other areas of ocean, developing a broader “Protect The Oceans” identity with a whale at the centre, a nod to Greenpeace’s beginnings as an anti-whaling movement.
This campaign attracted 5.5 million petition signatures worldwide, building so much global, public love for the oceans that we created enough political pressure to inspire the creation of a historic global oceans treaty, agreed in March 2023 at the UN, “a monumental win for ocean protection” according to Greenpeace and its partners.
By enabling a truly decentralised approach to comms-making, the campaign toolkit has been able to help Greenpeace teams earn countless media impressions all over the world, create stunts in public places, drive online conversations and influence policy making. At its fiercer moments, the campaign was also able to apply extra pressure to brands not doing enough to protect the oceans. In the case of Coca Cola – the world's biggest ocean plastic polluter – a brand attack actually led to a policy u-turn in favour of the oceans.
- 5.5 Million Global Petition Signatures
“UN High Seas Treaty adopted to protect world’s oceans — aiming to protect and conserve the international waters covering more than 60% of the planet.”BBC News,
Coca-Cola in Britain and Europe has made a u-turn on deposit schemes and now supports adoption in the UK after pressure from Greenpeace.The Guardian, UK,
Lovers x Greenpeace: a global campaign to protect the oceans
Lovers helped Greenpeace lead a global campaign to raise universal support to protect the planet’s oceans. Our creative platform and campaign toolkit empowered Greenpeace teams all around the world to make noise, earn attention, win public backing and speak truth to power.