With humanity being the Earth’s biggest threat to date, BBC’s A Perfect Planet highlights how perfect our world is, whilst delivering a stark warning about its future.
Alongside a national awareness campaign, the BBC wanted to create a standout special build that conveyed the impact humans are having on the planet. Until now, David Attenborough’s series have shown the best of animals in the natural world, but “A Perfect Planet” is different as it focuses on the Earth’s powerful forces that place everything in perfect balance, and the impact of humans on shifting that balance. The campaign needed to shock audiences to really highlight what was happening to our planet, right now.
The objective was to create a bigger campaign, that would create a moment leading on from the end of the series and tie into the BBC’s new climate change programming. This special build was all about telling the story of humans’ impact on our Perfect Planet, subverting the traditional OOH billboard, and doing something different.
To drive shareability and reach audiences beyond our standard OOH impacts, we knew we needed to shock audiences, so working with the BBC we hijacked a billboard in Manchester; seemingly ripping it up halfway through the in-charge to coincide with the final episode of the programme and adding a 3D rip to reveal the devastating image of a destructive forest fire.
The final element of the special build did take some convincing to get everyone on board – which was the smoke machine backed by ominous orange lighting, highlighting the grim reality of the current state wildfires are having on wildlife. Of course, the hesitancy was warranted – a smoking billboard is a guaranteed way to generate calls registering concern. So, following an in-depth risk assessment and with the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service fully briefed. We were ready.
To ensure the entire campaign was true to its intent, everything on the billboard was 100% recyclable. We used eco-friendly, non-toxic inks for all the printing, while the display panels and banner material were fully recyclable, as was the timber used to build the frame. And for the smoke, an eco-friendly water-based liquid was used for the smoke machine element.
The special build ran alongside a national D48 campaign which, at the start of the campaign, appeared to be straightforward billboards featuring the stars of the show – stunning animals in their natural habitat. In line with our special build for the last episode in the series “Humans”, the digital billboards suddenly changed, depicting a rip down the billboard to signify how humans have the potential to tear this planet apart. The posters appeared ripped to reveal a new message beneath and forest fires engulfing the once serene forests or plastic littered in the ocean, to amplify the message that the show’s fifth and final episode will tell us. “Our planet is perfect, but for how long?”
The show itself received rave reviews, with 9.1/10 on IMDB and 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes! We’re happy to report that our billboard stunt was equally well received, with a video of the stunt receiving 2.4 million views on BBC iPlayer’s Twitter. PR around the campaign provided additional amplification with coverage in The Drum, Campaign, Famous Campaigns, Ads of the World just to name a few.