An airplane engine humming crescendos in the background as polar bears drop out of the sky, slam to the ground and meet their bloody deaths. At first you may be wondering, why am I being subjected to this brutal imagery?
It's because Plane Stupid has a message for you, and whether it's effective or not, it's shocking enough to keep you watching. The video is a new promotional film from the British group that campaigns aggressively to end airport expansion, citing it as a prime culprit in the earth's changing climate. According to the video, "An average European flight produces over 400 kg. of greenhouse gases for every passenger. That's the weight of an adult polar bear."
However, some are questioning whether Plane Stupid's shock tactics have any value. Ed Gillespie, co-director of sustainable communications agency Futerra, writes in The Guardian:
Certainly it's controversial imagery will garner press interest, after all I'm writing this analytical blog for starters, and for campaigning organisations with limited budgets and only one bite at the media cherry this is crucial. However I'm still not sure it will change behaviour, the danger is that by pumping up the high octane drama of an ad, you increase the risk of viewers feeling manipulated and dismissing it as pure propaganda. Or lapsing into highly questionable failures of tact and taste in pursuit of 'edginess'.
What's more, Plane Stupid's own powerful imagery threatens to weaken their message. The imagery of polar bears falling to their deaths is a hard one to relate to and might get you sympathizing more with the polar bears than with their cause. Does it get you thinking about the impact of your flight, or does the metaphor overpower the message?