This post has been originally posted on Neocha EDGE.
The China Environment Protection Foundation(CEPF) recently commissioned JWT Shanghai to develop three print advertisements using shan shui style art by renowned landscape artist Yang Yongliang. The advertisements, titled Global Warming, Industrial Pollution, and Automotive Pollution, aimed to raise public awareness of ongoing environmental damage to China’s environment and were displayed as subway posters and full-page newspaper ads. The ads bear a striking resemblance to traditional Chinese paintings but, when looked at closely, portray environmentally unfriendly factories, cars, and buildings littering the landscape. The campaign has been a big hit with both the public and the press. The printed ads have received a number of international awards: Cannes Lions 2009 Outdoor Silver Ads, New York Festival Awards 2009, NYF 2009 Print Gold ads.
Consequently, the print ads have been adapted into an excellent animated short (see below) directed by Li Hailong from Beijing's One Production to run on air and on plasma screens in the Shanghai People Square Subway Station. The animation short was awarded the "Spikes Asia Gold Craft Spike" prize in the Category "TV - Best Use of Animation/Computer Graphics/ Special Effects" at this year's Spike Asia - Asian Advertising Festival. Additionally, the entire campaign won a number of Lotus awards at AdFest 2009, including gold for social engagement, best use of illustration, best art direction, and animation.
Apart from its mere artistic value, the campaign has also communicational and educational value: Raising public and governmental awareness might be the first step towards change. The campaign's worth is to be seen in the fact that, it manages to highlight the threat that ignorance represents to cultural identity by making use of aesthetic cues charged with traditional value.
Li, a graduate of the Beijing Film Academy with a degree in animation, told us he did not try to solely address environmental issues but also social ones as well: "The campaign expresses a societal attitude change with respect to the concept of "survival" – it activates an "environmental mindset" by addressing motives deeply rooted in everyone's psyche: the universal drive for continuance and the desire for a comfortable life."
Li explained that he made use of exaggerated imagery in order to emphasize the lack of space and suffocation people are confronted with today in China – a phenomenon, he says, that leads to increased levels of societal anxiety, confusion, and ultimately, a redefinition of necessity that exploits nature and replaces it with artificial substitutes.
Bravo JWT and One Production.
I would like to thank Hailong for his interview, patience and helpful comments.