“Carbon Neutral” WWF

And now for something completely different (to borrow an already recycled phrase from Monty Python). To inspire new thinking on combating global warming, the World Wildlife Fund/Canada and DraftFCB’s Toronto office have released what they call “possibly the world’s first completely carbon neutral” TV spot. Right. And G5s are incredibly eco-friendly if they’re carrying environmental activists aboard. Seriously, with all the power-sucking it takes to create, run and view a commercial, how could a TV spot possibly be carbon neutral? Well, in this case, the idea of recycling old TV clips is so clever that form follows function: Not only does it use already existing pieces of video, but the spot is painstakingly assembled from bits of unrelated words and phrases artfully strung together to make sentences. Unfortunately, it opens with ego/mogul Richard Branson articulating the first word. That’s a real conversation stopper for me, but the ad gets a lot more entertaining as it moves along. Beautifully sewn together to be all jolt-y and bumpy, the film-and-sound collage comes off as the video equivalent of a ransom note — except it’s less of a criminal threat and more of an inspired message about the little things we can do to fight global warming. There’s something hypnotic about the pace, and the black and white title card at the end — “Imagine what you can do to reduce global warming” — is a simple and effective touch. (We also get a note, before the spot actually starts, that it was “audited by a consulting engineer,” which sounds vaguely Scientology-esque, but also informs us that any small amount of energy used was “offset through Atmosfair.”) That sounds fair and reasonable. In the end, the spot feels earnestly low-tech (and low-emissions), though quite high minded and well thought out. –Barbara Lippert