Greenpeace Recycles JFK for Campaign

NEW YORK Digitally altered footage of everyone from Fred Astaire to Steve McQueen has been exhumed for TV commercials. Now the controversial environmental group Greenpeace is taking it a step further by featuring John F. Kennedy in its new digital ad campaign.

As part of its “Energy [R]evolution” push, one of the 35th presidents’ most famous speeches is altered to deliver a message about the dangers of global warming. It says:”When man first walked upon the moon it defined a generation. As this new millennium dawns we face a greater challenge. Climate change threatens our very existence.”

Launched last week, the spot has been viewed 60,000 times on YouTube. It is also available at “This is a slow burner. We haven’t kicked up our seeding or promotion yet,” said Rikki Khanna, director for strategy at AKQA, Amsterdam, which created the spot. “[Using JFK] is sensitive. We are aware of that. [But], we actually believe this is something he would have said.”

Greenpeace hopes the issue of whether JFK would have agreed with its stance will spark debate.

The ad is an easy target, said Simon Sinek, president of Sinek Partners, New York. “It will be polarizing depending on your opinion of Greenpeace. People who like them will think this is great. If people don’t like them, they will think this going too far.”

Overall, Sinek said it did not sound like a speech Kennedy would have delivered. “The words sound more like a Greenpeace ad. The term ‘Energy [R]evolution’ is not something I think Kennedy would have said. His ‘ask not what your country can do for you’ and ‘man on the moon’ speeches were all about coming together to achieve something. The Greenpeace ad missed that language.”

Pier Fawkes, head of PSFK Trendspotting, said, “Just what we don’t need, more ‘feel guilty’ campaigns. I get where they’re coming from but the whole discussion has moved on from being green to a bigger debate. You can’t just talk about energy saving if you’re still encouraging factories to pump out loads of non-biodegradable crap that they refuse to help recycle. Maybe it’s the right campaign for the right client, but maybe Greenpeace is not the organization to fix the world’s problems today.”