What if nature was our client?

James Turner, Founder of Glimpse, and Ally Kingston, Creative lead at Purpose Disruptors, delve into the creation of their unique brief for the ultimate client: nature

James Turner and Ally Kingston

Founder and Strategist and Creative Lead Glimpse and Purpose Disruptors


If you’re following COP28, the UN’s annual climate conference, you might have caught some strange stories. There was the billionaire proposing a bring-back of the woolly mammoth to curb methane in the Arctic. Some heated debates about going back to cave times. And perhaps strangest of all, news this COP is packed to the rafters with fossil fuel lobbyists  (a whopping 2,456 voices - four times more than any other COP.)

That’s scary because when the future’s being hashed out on negotiating tables, representation matters. Add your voice to the room, and you have the power to change the story.

When it comes to climate, our storytellers have a vital role in shaping our way out.

James Turner and Ally Kingston

Rebecca Solnit says any crisis is - in part - a crisis of storytelling. It’s a signal that something’s gone wrong with our sense of what matters, and what’s possible. Values, beliefs and norms are seeded in our popular imagination by storytellers of all kinds: from artists, to lobbyists, to advertising creatives. So when it comes to climate, our storytellers have a vital role in shaping our way out. 

We need new stories for climate and nature 

Purpose Disruptors and Glimpse believe that ad industry creatives are a particularly potent kind of storyteller for these times. They’re skilled in building wide appeal, and imbuing the everyday with magic and meaning. Plus being in a service industry, they’re product-agnostic: trained to shift gears towards anyone, or anything, who calls themselves a client. So we’ve been wondering: given the climate and nature crises, how might creatives give voice to what we really need more of right now?

Enter the Agency for Nature, the world’s first agency dedicated to creativity in service of one thing that really matters: our natural world. If oil and gas interests get to hog the mic, doesn’t our delicate web of plants, wild animals, and weather patterns deserve the same?

The Agency for Nature launches with the generous help from five top agencies - Wieden & Kennedy, The&Partnership, Leo Burnett, OLIVER and Amplify - who’ve each seconded a pair of rising creative stars to tackle our brief. Their mission: help a new generation fall back in love with the natural world.

It’s no secret that we humans have lost our feeling of connection to nature - particularly in the UK, where we’ve recently ranked Europe’s most disconnected.

Losing that sense of connection has devastating consequences. Studies have linked it to climate breakdown, eco-anxiety, out-of-control biodiversity loss, and spiralling mental health crises. Our hunch is that those presenting symptoms could get a lot better if we could tackle the root cause of disconnection - and new kinds of stories are a powerful way to do that.

The funny thing is, we humans all actually know what’s missing. Since 2021 Purpose Disruptors have been conducting research into what everyday UK people imagine a good life to look like in the future. Whoever you ask, the answers are pretty much the same: people dream of being more connected to themselves, to others, and critically, to nature. The desire to be closer to nature manifests in diverse ways: from chilling more in the park, to canal and river walks, taking up gardening, growing or litter picking. But the fact remains: we all know, in our bones, that greater wellbeing is waiting for us in the natural world.

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The tricky thing is, that bone-felt instinct is hard to act on when the stories of popular culture promote the opposite. We live in a world of fast - fast food, fast fashion, fast travel - in which our natural world barely features. A recent study found the presence of words associated with nature in films, songs, and books, has declined by 63% since 1950. Without nature’s voice represented in our culture and media, how can we expect ourselves to keep that vital connection alive? 

Launching the Agency for Nature 

Our new agency’s doors officially opened in late November, in little pocket of wilderness tucked behind London’s Kings Cross. A full “client induction” day supported our 10-strong agency cohort to reappraise and strengthen their own relationship with their new client: the natural world.

We spent a morning swapping laptops for logs and lichen, and worked on being present to all that was alive around us. Author and founder of Nature is a Human Right, Ellen Miles, joined the day as the agency’s special advisor, laying out the power and politics of nature connectedness. Our cohort left the day armed with their creativebrief, and are now busy developing their own campaigns which will launch across the UK in early 2024.

Agency for Nature Creatives Jas Nandoo (Leo Burnett), Susie Cornelius (OLIVER) & Hannah Young (Wieden+Kennedy) with Ellen Miles. Credit Eleanor Shorey..png

Agency for Nature Creatives Jas Nandoo (Leo Burnett), Susie Cornelius (OLIVER) & Hannah Young (Wieden+Kennedy) with Ellen Miles. Credit Eleanor Shorey.


Looking to the future 

Is this all just wishful thinking? Can there ever be a business case for encouraging people to get their kicks from the abundance of nature, rather than the novelty of consumer products?

The Agency for Nature is an experiment, but it’s hoping to start a conversation about how creativity could adapt to meet people’s needs in the 21st century. If citizens already desire more connection with nature, more time and spaciousness, who is going to offer it to them? Is there a role for the NHS or other state actors in creating a nature-connected country? Might the tech companies decide it’s in their interests to keep people happy and healthy IRL, as well as glued to their platforms online?

We don’t have the answers, but one way we can drive the conversation forward is by offering demonstrators of what’s possible. The Agency for Nature is a demonstrator, we hope, of a different kind of storytelling orientation for the ad industry, one that doesn’t just kick against what’s broken, but gestures towards desirable new futures. 

If you’re reading this and nodding, we leave you with a prompt. What does being connected to the natural world feel like for you? How can you remember that feeling more often? And how might you use your creativity to remind others what they know, deep down, is what life’s all about?

Guest Author

James Turner and Ally Kingston

Founder and Strategist and Creative Lead Glimpse and Purpose Disruptors


James is the Founder of Glimpse, a worldwide collective which uses creativity to deepen our relationship with nature. Ally is a Strategist and Creative Lead with Purpose Disruptors, an organisation working to transform the advertising industry in service of a thriving future. Glimpse and Purpose Disruptors are working to inspire a creative industry that’s very different from our current one. Instead of celebrating fast-paced, always-on lifestyles, we ask what if our creativity was used instead to be in service to life on earth?

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