Greenpeace wants to take on the meat industry in the same way it did fossil fuels, by showing the public the link between eating meat and the climate crisis.
The organisation is launching a new animation, in the style of its award-winning Rang-tan campaign from two years ago, to raise awareness about the deforestation that occurs as a result of the industrial meat industry.
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven tells Marketing Week: “In the same way people have drawn the connection with fossil fuels and climate change, we need to do exactly the same thing when it comes to meat production. Success is really getting this message across and getting governments and corporations to listen. We’ve seen lots of speeches on this issue but what we really need to see is action.”
‘There’s a Monster in my Kitchen’ is an animation that tells the story of a young boy who discovers an animal in his kitchen – Jag-wah the jaguar. In a nursery rhyme telling, he soon realises that Jag-wah has his own monster destroying his habitat.
With Jag-wah the young boy explores how the industrially produced meat in our kitchens is fuelling the clearance of forests and vows to mobilise people to fight the monsters.
Greenpeace says meat is the single biggest driver of deforestation worldwide, with the push for space to produce beef and animal feed crops like soya a key reason for clearance in South American forests in particular.
The campaign has taken inspiration from the art and music of indigenous people, many of whom face violence as ranchers and illegal loggers seek to take their land. Greenpeace, along with its agency Mother, used an international team and Brazilian actors to ensure it had global appeal.
Rang-tan won awards for its creative, including a 2019 Marketing Week Masters. But it also attracted controversy, in particular when it was banned from TV broadcast after Iceland opted to use it as its Christmas ad in 2018 (it was banned because Greenpeace is deemed to be a political organisation, not because of the content of the ad per se).
Greenpeace is hoping this new ad will raise the same levels of awareness but without the controversy.
Suaven explains: “With Monster we we are trying to make a film on its own without any controversy which will be watched by a huge global audience.”
Greenpeace began working on the campaign prior to Covid-19, with Sauven initially fearing that the pandemic would drown out climate issues. However, he says that destruction of biodiversity has become an even more important issue because of the link between pandemics and animals, which has meant people can see how deforestation will lead to “more problems and more pandemics”.
He explains: “This film started taking on an importance and drawing more connections with the natural environment and how important it is to protect it.”
Suaven is adamant that within the next decade the world needs to cut meat consumption by 70%. The film does not go so far as to ask everyone to become vegan but instead aims to encourage them to be more mindful of the impact their eating habits can have.
“The idea of challenging the meat is a bit like heresy, I imagine, in some countries. But I think the film is going to be quite influential and raise an interesting debate” he says.
How activism and marketing align
Greenpeace’s relationship with brands is nuanced because it both works companies and runs campaigns against them.
“We’ve worked with Iceland but also criticised Iceland and that’s the same with all companies. We have a campaign against Tesco at the moment to try to persuade them to stop promoting so much industrial meat but the UK CEO of Tesco was in my office two weeks ago and the same week the CEO of BP was also in my office,” Suaven explains.
Sauven understands that CEOs all too often face pressure from shareholders who “will tell them to keep doing the same thing”, which is why its marketing is so important.
He says: “It’s why we need strong campaigns and the backing of consumers and citizens if we want to change these companies.”
He believes that campaigning and marketing are similar in that both require creative storytelling.
“It’s all part and parcel of being creative and innovative, [it’s] about getting our message out there and encouraging people to be active. At the end of the day we are trying to encourage millions of people to take action.”
He concludes that despite concerns about climate change “now being mainstream” there is still more to be done – quickly.
“We’ve not yet reached that tipping point where we’ve seen the words match the action that’s required in order to solve this problem and that’s why this film is so important, he says.