The killing of majestic animals is big news this week. And now, the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd has unveiled a brutal PSA protesting the slaughter of whales by demonstrating how they die at the hands of humans—as acted out by a human.
The spot is skillfully horrific, as Australian character actor David Field mimics getting shot, convulsing, choking and coughing up blood. The PSA aims to draw attention, in particular, to the method of using an explosive harpoon to shoot the mammals, which causes massive internal injuries, and to the time it takes for them to die, which can be up to an hour.
"The cruelty inflicted on whales is shocking, and while most people abhor whaling, I think many don't realize just how brutally these sea mammals are butchered," Field said in a statement. "As a supporter of Sea Shepherd, I want to bring this barbaric practice to the attention of as many people as possible in the hope that we can get it stopped."
As with many animal-rights PSAs, this one aims to evoke empathy by inviting people to imagine how they'd feel in the animal's situation. This spot goes further by imagining the outcry if whaling were to happen to humans on a large scale. That's a rhetorical device, yet it undermines the message a bit because it's so easy to refute—it's not happening to humans, after all. Yet that kind of hyperbole isn't surprising following such violent imagery. (The excessive nature of the campaign also extends to the hashtag, #UltimateDeathScene.)
"Those who care about marine wildlife really feel something deeply when they see whaling taking place. We sought to harness this feeling to generate the maximum impact," said Paul Swann, creative partner at Sydney agency The Works, which created the campaign. "The idea of a human experiencing what a whale does, combined with a graphic execution, will come to life across video, social, radio and print."
Client: Sea Shepherd
Agency: The Works
Creative Partner: Paul Swann
Creative Leads: Adam Bodfish, Leo Barbosa
Digital Strategy Director: Damien Hughes
Planner: Leo Hennessy
Head of Digital Production: Dave Flanagan
Content Production Manager: Tristan Drummond
Senior Digital Designer: Kim Sanders
Social Media Strategist: Vanessa Hartley
Social Community Manager: Anna Lai
Project Management: Catriona Heaphy, Gillian Snowball, Juliette Hynes
Director: Tony Prescott
Director of Production: Robert Morton
Postproduction: Method Studios
Sound: Nylon Studios