Mate Act NowMate Act Now: The Protest
Submission # 11
Campaign – Pānuitanga
Impact – Social Good
Impact – Environmental Stewardship
A poster won’t change the world. People’s actions will.
In response to the 2019/20 Australian bushfires, and recontextualised by the global outbreak of COVID-19, MATE ACT NOW is a co-ordinated response to drive climate action by over 300 designers from New Zealand and around the world.
“In a normal world, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day would see countless projects and initiatives launching to promote us all to make a change in our lives to impact the environment for the better. The current crisis, however, has changed the context. This year’s Earth Day took a different tone, and a different format online, with one of the largest and most globally unifying projects of the day borne out of New Zealand titled — Mate Act Now.” The world was just going into lockdown and getting altered by the COVID pandemic. We as designers and the design community are fighting for our clients, our sanity and in some cases even our own jobs. It was a dark place and an unprecedented time. We wondered if design can affect change? Design by itself can't affect change but people can — they just need to be empowered and have the intention to act.
We aimed to create a global conversion of climate action and show as a creative community we could come together “digtally” during this unprecedented time.
“We asked people to act digitally. We couldn’t take to the streets to protest (during lockdown), we couldn’t even form a human chain around anything and we could barely take the rubbish out. As designers, creatives and artists all we have is our "digitally" powered voices or in this case our social media accounts and our smartphones. Our screens and what we choose / or choose not to share is the new ‘protest line’ and helps to define the media landscape and show we stand for.”
Our key values were inclusiveness, diversity and responsibility. We strived to capture a diverse range of people in our open call for involvement. From young and up and coming, as well as those who have been around for a while. We invited design schools and sought out talent who might provide a different perspective/approach. We choose to make the posters downloadable for free to allow a higher level of engagement.
Three powerful pieces of writing (not available on the website) formed the start of the book:
1) a piece about the ‘poster’ and how it has been a part of protests throughout history,
2) a how the COVID pandemic could actually be the chance for a reset,
3) a call to arms that now more than ever we need to take action.
On Earth Day 2020, we created a global "digital protest" by asking people to download or share the posters socially: a protest powered by social media around the world. Designers, creatives and illustrators from all parts of New Zealand and the world joined this call to arms and used their media feeds to launch and share the initiative. This created a global protest movement rather than a brand. The website went live on Earth Day and revealed the first batch of posters that had been submitted to the cause. These posters could be downloaded for free and shared, strengthening the collective fight against climate change. We then our followers to share their favourite posters on their social media feeds (thereby amplifying the protest).
So what difference could a world-wide “digital poster protest” from New Zealand make?
Well this campaign had:
— a global online reach of over 7 million people,
— raised more than $5,000 for the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund
— Planted over 1,000 trees for the Eden Reforestation Project (to offset any carbon emissions from the project).
‘Mate Act Now’ has been featured in a wide range of blogs and publications, including It’s Nice That, Creative Review, Design Week and many more— helping to start a global climate change conversation and showing that the design community embraced it. In these uncertain & unprecedented times, it's powerful to still know that as a New Zealand design and creative community we can still act.
The breadth and variations of responses in this initiative are both heartwarming (from a design-nerd POV) to eye-opening...as per its real intention highlighting environmental damage. Extremely well-curated and planned out - the variation of responses is a great gauge as to where we are a nation of designers and what we have to say.
Credits & Collaborators: Creative Director - Chris Flack Creative Director - Liam Ooi Developer - Paul Phanoulas PR and Outreach - Jenny Theolin
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