A Big BLUE Planet

The vast majority of ocean pollution advertisements aim at getting

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Figure 1: The Surfrider Foundation displays how marine life pays the price for human action, holding the sea turtle at ‘gunpoint’ in this 2015 advertisement.

the viewers to evaluate how they have been treating natural world. The primary goal this ad campaign serves is awareness. Using this ad campaign, the organizations hope to spark action from the general public in an attempt to negate or halt the current practice of pollution. Due to the effect of human industrialization and overpopulation on the oceans, these ads
encourage the individuals to take responsibility for their actions by subtly (and in rare cases not so subtly) portraying the major impact of pollution on not only marine life, but human life as well.
In a sense, the ads attempt to strike a chord with the viewers by relating the marine damage to their individual decisions and the consequences of their actions. Ocean pollution advertisements almost always use white space in ads, taking advantage

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Figure 2: An example of white space used by the World Wildlife Foundation in the fight against plastic pollution. The ‘ray’ is actually plastic bags.

of the natural backdrop of the ocean as the white space in the advertisements. This white space literally creates the environment for the featured animal, or what often times appears to be an animal. The natural dark blue of the ocean in some advertisements creates a cool, calm mood, but can also evoke a depressive response that can be sought after in the attempts to get the audience to sympathize with the cause. However, I realized that the use of blue may make it seem a little bit more peaceful than the ad intended. Since blue is such a calming color, it may lull viewers into thinking everything is alright. Possibly advertisements with different color schemes may be more effective.
Additionally, these ads often contain facts concerning ocean pollution with the goal of putting into perspective the effects of pollution on marine life and ecosystems.

As stated before, this ad campaign attempts to serve a two-fold purpose in awareness and subsequent activism. That being said, it targets two groups of people. Because ocean pollution is a worldwide issue, the first group encompasses the majority of the United States and developed countries around the globe. The awareness aspect of campaign targets those in a higher economic status (in reference to the world as a whole) to make choices to be more sustainable. Obviously, in reference to those of lower economic status in the Third World, those who cannot afford such luxuries like reusable water bottles have to rely on cheaper, plastic alternatives. But it pushes those who have the resources to be sustainable to practice sustainability. Additionally, the second group it targets is activists. All the ads reference the organization promoting the ad, so the ads encourage people to get involved with many of these non-profits in the hope of building a larger presence for the organization.

From looking at these advertisements, one major flaw sticks out. While the ocean

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Figure 3: The Emirates Environmental Group focuses on ocean pollution’s effect on human health in their 2008 “What Goes Around Comes Around” ad series.

is undoubtedly important to all life on Earth, many individuals around the globe do not have any connection to it. Reflecting personally for a moment, I am lucky enough to have grown up near the California coast, so I have had plenty of interaction with the ocean and the ecosystems within it. However, this is not the case for those living in the middle of every major continent. Only those living on the coasts truly interact with it on a consistent basis, so some of these images may be more traumatic and effective on someone like myself rather than someone who grew up in Kansas or Nebraska. This may be an issue that the ocean pollution ad campaign should focus on to gain greater momentum in their movement.

This entry was posted in Blog #2. Researching Print Advertisements. Bookmark the permalink.

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