Good ads are continuously making us buy stuff we don’t want, and even stuff we don’t want to want. But unlike limited-time-only fast food curiosities and all those other dumb things we’re talked into trying, a greener lifestyle is something most people do want, or at least want to want, so you’d think it’d be an easy sell. But what, exactly, does that pitch look like? A new campaign, which tapped 20 top designers to come up with ads for various green initiatives, gives us two dozen examples.
The project was put together by Do The Green Thing, an environmental charity that’s trying to combat climate change with the powers of creativity. The group asked 23 top creatives, including names like Eddie Opara, a partner at Pentagram and one of our 100 Most Creative People in Business, and Patrick Cox, the man behind the logo for the London 2012 Olympics, to create posters for various green lifestyle choices—small things like unplugging unused gadgets, or walking instead of driving. In the words of Naresh Ramchandani, one of the charity’s founders and a designer himself, it was a chance to apply "one of the most powerful tools we know to the biggest problem we’ve got." And the designers were free to make the case however they wanted.
Much of the resulting work is striking, though no two contributions look alike. Guillaume Cornet, an illustrator, filled his poster with a dense, eye-catching doodle—and included a picture of the tiny nub left of the pencil he made it with. Below it bears the message: "Use your pencils to the end." The motivation? The one and a half billion Bic pens Americans throw out every year.
Michael Bierut, a partner at Pentagram, repurposed an iconic frame from the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho. The tag: "Cut your shower short." Get it? For her contribution, Sophie Thomas, the co-director of design for the Royal Society for the Arts, sculpted discarded bits of plastic into a question mark, confronting the viewer with the question of why they don’t recycle more—and showing them the outcome of that inaction.
Each of the posters takes a unique approach, some of which you might find more compelling than others, but the collection as a whole hangs together in a few ways. One commonality is something you don’t see on any of the posters: statistics. Which is a little bit surprising, because the hard numbers behind climate change can be astonishing. Still, in a world awash in data, even the most arresting facts and figures often don’t make much of a lasting impact. But the thought of Norman Bates coming to put an end to our water-wasting ways? That might stick.