Hi Anthem Awards judges, this is the case for “Protect Ourselves” by the Plastic Soup Foundation

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A film that taps into our instincts

Plastic pollution has become such a huge problem that it is starting to overwhelm governments, NGOs, and even consumers. This results in general non-action.

The film “Protect Ourselves” addresses a problem that we can actually do something about. It serves to remind everyone to protect themselves by tapping into an already existing behavior: our instinct to protect our most important others, our children.

Turning non-action into action

The Plastic Soup Foundation (PSF) research team uncovered the fact that 80% of meat contains microplastics; plastics that find their way into farm animals via animal feed. The usual path of action is to share the facts and figures. But nowadays people are so easily overwhelmed when confronted with an issue as big as plastic pollution that simply sharing facts & figures results in little-to-no action.

Instead of just sharing the news, PSF decided to go with a more emotional approach. Sharing the news via a film that taps into an instinct every parent will recognise: the instinct to be hyper-aware of what our children put into their mouths. The film overcomes the overwhelming feeling people normally have around the plastic pollution crisis, and nudges us into action. We all want to protect ourselves from eating plastic.

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The Ideation process

The theme was an emotional one. Plastic pollution is one of our generation’s largest environmental issues and has a direct impact on the lives of the people at our agency. We felt it was our duty to aid PSF in spreading this message.

The problem is that for most people, news of (micro)plastics being found somewhere isn’t scary or shocking anymore. It has come to a point where most feel helpless to act or protect themselves against this ever-growing issue. 

However, this issue is one that can actually be prevented. By setting tightening regulations we can control animal feed and make sure zero plastic is being consumed by farm animals, guaranteeing plastic free meat as well.

Since this single issue is something that people can actually do something about, we decided to make a comparison with a behaviour every parent will recognise. A behaviour to protect their children. So we decided to ask the same people: “what if you looked after yourselves the same way you look after your children?” 

This issue is one we can protect ourselves from, but we will have to be the ones to take action. There is no-one else who will.

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Crafting the film

The cinematic ad starts with different children in their ‘oral phase’, putting different plastics in their mouth. But every time a hyper-alert parent is there to save them. In the first part of the film the tension builds up to emphasise the emotions parents experience when their child puts a piece of plastic in their mouth.

A short break follows, and we return to see a parent. While we see him enjoy his steak – oblivious to the plastic inside – the title makes the comparison between the two behaviours.

The film is carried by a custom melody based on a Dutch children’s song everyone will recognise called “Bon-Appetit”. A song that every child learns to sing when it’s time to eat. This emphasises the dissonance in the two behaviours, and helps us to connect the two on a deeper emotional level.

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The results

And while all of this doesn’t solve the problem we’re facing just yet, we can say that we sparked the conversation we set out to start. We created the awareness around the issue, and set in place the first actions needed to protect ourselves – and the world – from eating plastic.

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