Last night I went to see the first UK screening of The End of the Line, a documentary based on the book of the same name by Charles Clover.
The End of the Line, the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. Sundance took place in Park City, Utah, January 15-25, 2009
Most successful environmental campaigns have had powerful icons to promote their struggle: poaching has the elephant and global warming has the polar bear, the original environmental icon were the whales, whilst the WWF has long been known for its panda. All of these species have been used to bring massive worldwide coverage to their respective campaigns; whilst the blue fin tuna is not quite a “cute”, in terms of fishing it’s no less important.
As a kid at school I convinced my class to sponsor an orphaned baby elephant at the David Sheldrick Orphanage and I have always tried to “do my bit” for the world whilst still living a “normal” life. Now that I’m a little bit older and have been corrupted by marketing for a few years I tend to see the world in a different light.
Traditionally films relied heavily on above the line advertising to promote the latest version of a post apocalyptic world riddled with CGI and bad acting. And whilst there’s still no escaping from ads for the latest blockbuster once the summer holidays roll around, movie companies have also started to create some of the most interesting & interactive digital campaigns of recent years.
To compete with the latest offering from the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, small independent films need to box clever to get more from tiny budgets, and what better way than to engage their audiences online, specifically by using social media.
The End of the Line has almost 2,000 Facebook fans and 1,500 Twitter followers. Whilst these numbers might not seem amazing it is not the numbers that interest me but the way in which they are interacting with their fans and the way in which they are using Social Media to promote the film and, ultimately, engaging people in the plight of the world’s fishing stocks and specifically the iconic blue fin tuna.
The functionality of many social media sites is perfectly suited to “grass roots” campaigns, allowing them to gain traction in an increasingly competitive environment. Businesses can also benefit from these social media campaigns by using the advertising models of social networks such as Facebook and directly targeting users with strong passions and attitudes towards issues such as over-fishing.
For example Waitrose is a supporter of The End of the Line: this is potentially a valuable investment in PR for them as it associates them with this highly emotive subject, Using the highly targeted ad placement available in both search and social media, brands such as Waitrose can use this to reinforce their stance on sustainable fishing practices, thereby building emotional connections with potential consumers (of their sustainably sourced fish products).
If people can’t get to the cinema to watch the documentary or aren’t quite as active in their desires to help change the world as those taking the time to promote it through Twitter and the like, The End of the Line have also produced a series of short clips, including interviews with of the films makers. These have been produced in conjunction with Babelgum to bring short 10 minute episodes to the masses and allowing them to consumer them where and when they want them.
The way we choose to consume our fish is something that will directly affect the human race over the next 50 years so hats of to those who are trying to do something about it. And from a digital marketing perspective well done for having the foresight to engage people in a conversation we didn’t really know we needed to have until you told us we did, just like we didn’t know we needed Twitter till it existed.
Fishing net image by djnordic on flickr