Seven Things We Learned In 2019
2019 was an incredibly exciting year for Curious PR; in that environmental sustainability became 'impossible to ignore'. November 2020 will be crunch time, as world leaders convene at the UN summit in Glasgow to decide how dedicated each nation will be to ‘change’. Yet right now, many of us are unclear on how to live and work better for our planet: How green are compostable plastics versus biodegradable ones? Which type of car is the cleanest to run? etc. These questions make communications all-important!
It's interesting to draw parallels between health and the environment: When choosing what to eat, many of us could do with a traffic lights system, yet nothing simple has materialised. That said, we're a lot more clued-up about nutrition than we were a few decades ago; hopefully the same will happen with ‘living green’. We believe that communications, commitment and pragmatism will be key in 2020 when it comes to environmental issues. But we're all still learning...
Here are seven things we learned in 2019:
1. The Economy's Not Flat; It's Circular!
Thanks to Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough, the environment came to the centre stage in 2019. Our founder, Hannah Kapff, chose to study Environmental Science over 15 years ago. Back then, none of her peers understood why. How things change! Fast-forward to 2020 and we see sustainability woven throughout our work in communications.
This time last year, after the 'post-Christmas buying-splurge' we informed the media about this scandalous fact: 50% of goods we buy online but then return, end up in landfill or an incinerator because it’s not worth returning them to inventory. This statistic formed part of a circular economy campaign for the world’s largest re-use marketplace, Globechain - a Forbes’ ‘start-up to watch in 2019’. Its Founder and CEO, May Al-Karooni, was invited onto the ‘Talking Business’ sofa at BBC World News, (global audience of 111million), to explain the solution to this problem. We also saw her featured in key titles such as Environment Journal, Government Europa and Recycling & Waste World.Let’s hope 2020 sees the circular economy gain momentum, and fast fashion slow to an ice-melt pace. As our ‘Fast Fashion’ blog argues, the ability to purchase ‘ten dollar jeans’ must end, because someone, somewhere is paying the price.
2. It's Not Hard To Balance Your Carbon
December saw our aerial filming client, Helicopter Film Services (HFS), do the right thing for the environment. We announced news from CEO, Jeremy Braben, a world-leading Aerial Director of Photography, that he'd chosen to balance his company’s carbon emissions in a ‘first-in-sector’ move, explaining: “For a long time, we’ve known that what we do is no friend to the environment, so we’ve chosen to go down this route, and we urge others to follow.” Tree planting and land rights projects will benefit from their support. Enthusiastic press coverage followed in British Cinematographer, GTC, Televisual & Definition.
Meanwhile, HFS continues to film VFX-friendly aerial sequences for independent productions and blockbuster movies on behalf of Marvel, Netflix, Warner Brothers et al. We’ve communicated about their case studies and technology launches, such as the TITAN - an ultra-heavy lift drone powerful enough to fly a mag of 35mm film, shown in American Cinematographer and other key titles.
Much anticipated trailers for Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984 – where HFS has waved its aerial wand – have now been released, causing a stir on the company’s Instagram and IGTV (Instagram TV) feeds, which we manage.
Thankfully Christmas 2019 didn’t involve a drone strike at Gatwick Airport like that of the previous year, although admittedly, that fiasco did help us to secure a global audience of 115million for HFS’s chief drone pilot, whose mobile number became hot property at news desks in need of expert comment!
3. A Wall Of Trees Can Unite
As some of us recall from our science lessons, plants act as the planet’s lungs by converting CO2 into Oxygen through the miracle of photosynthesis. No surprise that tree planting has taken hold as a solution to the climate crisis. We are communicating, on behalf of the UNCCD, about the Great Green Wall: an audacious, pan-African initiative to combat desertification and provide livelihoods for millions by planting 5,000 miles of trees and vegetation across Africa.
Later this year, a 90-minute feature documentary about the initiative will be released: ‘The Great Green Wall’ was made by multi award winning MAKE Waves Media. It was our privilege to publicise the world premiere at The Venice Film Festival, where we secured important coverage in Variety Magazine.
Besides trees planting, we anticipate many other initiatives and innovations will emerge this decade to combat the climate crisis. We predict a greater focus on more efficient ways to convert CO2, such as by harvesting Blue Green Algae, which is even more efficient than land-based plants… And as Australia’s fires rage on we are mindful that, unlike forests, the oceans are fireproof.
4. Cassettes Are BACK on the Shelves!
They say you can judge a person from their record collection, but what now, given that music is hosted on digital devices? Incredibly, 2019 saw ‘The Great Cassette Comeback!’ Sales of this ‘old school’ format are soaring, with most buyers being 8-24 year olds discovering the ‘spooltastic’ format for the first time! Robbie Williams, Kylie and Harry Styles recently released new albums on tape. This story of ‘retro love’ captured the imagination of news editors, so it’s been a busy time for music format expert Karen Emanuel, CEO of Key Production Group: darting around giving industry talks and interviews for BBC Radio London, BBC World, The Guardian, and The i to explain why these beloved physical music formats will forever be in our lives.
5. The Victorians Started 'Reality TV'!
If you enjoyed Peter Jackson’s WWI film, They Shall Not Grow Old, we suggest you see two new re-colourised archive series coming to Channel 5 this year: Victorian Britain On Film - and - Thirties In Colour: Countdown to War. Both feature scenes from ‘everyday life’, as well as key moments in history, as made by London-and-Singapore based MAKE Waves Media, for which we secured this news in Broadcast Magazine. We can’t wait to see these painstakingly made documentaries light up our screens, inspiring the curious historian in us all!
6. You Can't Keep An Army Woman Down
It’s a privilege to continue raising the profile of WRAC Association - the only charity that specifically helps women who have served in the British Army. 2019 marked it’s centenary, having been formed after WW1 to provide camaraderie and support. We are thrilled its dedicated team followed our suggestion to publish a book about women in the Army: 100 Wonderful Womenlent itself to events and media opportunities, with its editor interviewed live on radio. Two articles in praise of the charity made it into iconic magazine, The Lady. Plus, Cold War veteran, Pat Rosewell, amused listeners with tales of army life as a woman, and of ‘spooking the corgis’ on a visit to HM The Queen Mother for BBC Radio London! More serious messages made it into article by the Women’s Correspondent at The Independent: the plight of ex-Army women struggling on tiny pensions, having been forced to leave the army to get married or start a family – rules only lifted in the 90’s.
This week, we announced that the WRAC’s oldest WW2 veteran, Anne Robson, died aged 108. Her contribution and "fiercely independent spirit" are now being celebrated in headlines around the world - BBC News (TV & Online), The Daily Mail Online, Fox News, The Scotsman, The Courier and elsewhere.
7. 89% Of Ads Are Immediately Forgotten
Who remembers Excitable Edgar, the cute John Lewis dragon? And was the £6.35m spent by brands in 2019 on Christmas ads worth it? Not in every case, according to Paul Mellor, Co-Founder of ‘risk-taking’ ad agency Mellor&Smith. We got Paul’s opinions on the failure of his industry to take creative risks onto a front page article in London paper, CityAM, plus, a 10-minute interview for BBC Radio, exploring how we can return to the good old days of adverts we loved to quote, and jingles we remember, decades later!
We also approached the media during peak Adland season - Cannes Lionsweek - about why advertising is ailing. Due to a data-obsessed aversion to taking risks, according to the agency’s 25-year-old Creative, Cookie Tabinor, who spoke to a live audience of 111m for BBC World News. (Now that takes guts!). Our team also secured coverage in key trade title, The Negotiator, about the agency’s NUFFIN' tube train campaign for fin-tech firm, Canopy. So if you’re interested in the power of creative risk-taking, listen to the Mellor&Smith’s TFR Podcast, or come to its sell-out TFR events.
Will you be ROARING in the '20s?
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that 2020 will require very careful communications strategies to unpick, demystify and debunk the facts to help us all make decisions to live and operate our businesses more sustainably. Only by embracing the complexities can we avoid 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater.' It’s how you explain it that counts.
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All the best for 2020, from the Curious PR team