Oil powers our everyday world. However, oil has a huge impact on our environment – both through drilling techniques and through burning of fossil fuels. Crude Awakening is an activist public campaign that aims to create empathetic engagement in an audience weary of environmental campaigns with stale imagery of dead oil-streaked birds. It educates and stimulates pressure to help stop oil drilling in New Zealand through the use of integrated social media and carefully designed spatial interventions. It encourages people to be proactively involved, thus promoting greater understanding and rapport towards the issue.
Over twelve weeks, a series of 22 interventions were devised and staged in public places highlighting oil drilling and its risks – these included digital posters, projected light images and physical interventions. Teasers were posted on the Facebook page. Engagement by the public on social media is an invaluable way to both stimulate and gauge audience response. Alongside the Facebook page, a website reinforces the message and gives more information about the interventions. It includes a section where people can learn about everyday oil-free alternatives and how to access them. It thus acts as an information source and a driver to action.
The campaign finale was a series of “live posters”. Through four characters, the campaign communicates separate aspects of the impact of oil drilling: human health, animal health, clean-up and oil consumption. Each character is referenced only by a few objects – sunhat, sandals, bucket, lung, fishing line, fishing net, fish, and water bottles. Such characterisation and imageries resonate with people by stimulating a simple narrative of a day at the beach. This is in contrast to traditional campaign imageries of oil spills, filthy lungs and dead fish that evoke deep feelings of disgust.
Nga Pae Mahutonga - The School of Design, Massey University, New Zealand