Advertisers have a way of turning most any product into a presentable pitch, but that’ll soon prove challenging for those in the travel industry as worsening climate change turns the world’s most beautiful destinations into scenes from the apocalypse.
That’s the pitch for the new social campaign created by FF Los Angeles for Fridays For Future, the weekly climate strike by schoolchildren started by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg.
Based on the retro posters that used to hang in train stations and airports during the 1920s and ’30s, before the advent of television commercials, the campaign demonstrates the effects of climate change through the lens of the travel industry, which is responsible for between 8% and 10% of global carbon emissions.
“We can still see today that people don’t believe in global warming, but we are facing the effects of it: the fires in California, the flooding in Venice,” said FF Los Angeles creative director Chelsea Steiger in an email. “By using the visual language of local travel posters, we felt it was an impactful and emotional way to bring awareness.”
Since Thunberg started Fridays For Future in 2018, her climate change strike has grown into worldwide protests including the Global Climate Strike, which saw brands including Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Lush closing their doors in solidarity.
Before television, the travel poster was often the primary marketing vehicle for vacation destinations. Produced via color lithography and favoring images over words, travel posters appeared in public spaces—notably transit hubs like railroad stations and travel agencies—luring would-be customers with dreamy, pastel-colored renditions of exotic locales.
Early travel posters sold the romance of travel as much as the destination itself, featuring bold and fanciful depictions of ocean liners, trains and flying boats, designed to convince consumers that, for the price of a ticket, they could join the well-heeled set embarking on a voyage to a distant part of the world.
The campaign will run in four locations: California; Venice; Zermatt, Switzerland; and Queensland, Australia. Each was selected because of its proximity to a climate change-related disaster: drought-ridden California, where wildfires continue to grow worse every year; drowning Venice is shown underwater, a casualty of overtourism and rising sea levels. The Swiss resort town of Zermatt is missing the snow from its famous Alpine peaks, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is long dead, bleached by rising water temperatures.
FF Los Angeles created the campaign pro bono.