A New ‘The Wind in the Willows’ Trailer Is Actually a PSA for Protecting the Environment

Creative agency Don't Panic is behind the work, which features David Attenborough

Courtesy of Wilder Future
Headshot of Shannon Miller

As climate change and nature conservation continue to drive intense global conversations, one aspect that stands out is the rising interest in environmental issues amongst our youth. Young people are currently leading the charge when it comes to taking our government officials to task and demanding change that will hopefully save our planet from further decline. Just recently, Swedish teen and climate activist Greta Thunberg was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for leading a global youth movement to halt climate change. While adults remain gridlocked in debate, it seems that the children we know now will ultimately be the driving force behind substantial environmental change.

So when creative agency Don’t Panic partnered with the animation house Rowdy to retool a classic children’s tale into a call-to-action campaign for The Wildlife Trusts in the U.K., what transpired was an end result that was as fitting as it was captivating. The team produced a “trailer” for a new (and imaginary) Wind in the Willows films based on the classic Kenneth Grahame tale. The whimsical stop motion moment (which, by the way, might remind viewers aesthetically of the Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs, which Rowdy also produced) shows just a bit of the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad. Rather suddenly, their spring day is disrupted by bulldozers and pollution. What was once an actual fairy tale has been forever destroyed by the harsh realities of hostile climate change.

Courtesy of Wilder Future

The campaign enlisted the help of Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry to not only voice the characters, but to utilize their collective star power to call for immediate nature recovery in the U.K. Stephanie Hilborne, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, hopes that the short film will inspire a massive call for change at the highest level.

“If we want to put nature into recovery we have to create a mass movement of people calling for change,” Hilborne said. “Our film is a sad version of The Wind in the Willows—showing how Ratty and Toad have hit the buffers—but it ends with a message of real hope. It’s not too late to create strong laws which will help our wildlife make a comeback—and it’s not too late to establish a Nature Recovery Network which will enable us to plan a wilder future.”

The PSA will air in theaters and on various social media platforms. The campaign is also encouraging viewers to contact their local politicians about policy change, check for volunteering opportunities, and to simply “walk in the pawprints of others” and think critically about their needs of our neighboring wildlife, much like Toad, Ratty, and Badger.


Client: The Wildlife Trusts
Campaign: Wilder Future
CEO: Stephanie Hilborne
Director of Campaigns & Policy: Nikki Williams
Campaign Co-ordinator: Joanna Richards
Agency: Don’t Panic
Founding Partner: Joe Wade
Founding Partner: Mark Whiteway
Creative Partner: Rick Dodds
Client Services Partner: Jane Marshall
Senior Creative: George McCallum
Creative: Alice Dowdall
Strategy and Media: Ellie Moore
Senior Project Manager: Louise Boyd
Account Manager: Thea Deakin
Agency Producer: Huw Allen
Head of Artwork: Paul Howard
Designer: Ellen Crowther
Production: ROWDY
Director/Producer/DOP: Matthew Day
Director/Producer: Thomas Harnett O’Meara
Animation: Andy Biddle, Tobias Fouracre, Anthony Farquhar Smith, Max Martin
1st AC & BTS: Toby Goodyear
Additional motion control: Max Halstead
Gaffer: Aldo Camilleri
Head of Puppets: Ciara McClean
Puppet department: Stefano Cordioli, Jade Gerrard, Petrarycja Cichocka, Carlos Padilla, Saskia Martindale,
Claire Lever, Sofia Rodriguez
Costume: Janet Knetchell
Art Directors: Sarah Crombie, Yossel Simpson Little
Modellers: Catherine Prowse, James Owens, Colin Armitage, Ben Cote
Art Department: George Warren, Renata Corillo Martin, Colette Pidgeon, Nathan Ward, Jessica Vogot, Dewie
CNC and laser cutting: Jack Kirby, Almost Everything
Painter: Richard Davidson
Scenic Painter: Angela Pang
Post Production: Alasdair Brotherson
Graphics: Flaminia Rossi, Leaun Davis
Rigging: Robin Jackson
Kingston University Students: Lulu, Saskia Tomlinson
Norwich University students: Amara Norman, Emma Niemis, Michael Chapman, Cheznie Walters, A Middleton
Central St Martins University Students: Brad Gilbert
Production Assistance: Vasliki
Sound: String and Tins
Original music: Will Cohe
Sound design: Will Cohen
Orchestra: Fames Project
Lead Violin: Dorry Macaulay
Music preparation: Simon Whiteside
Additional music: ‘Speed Toad’ by Andy Stewart
Additional sound design: Lawrence Kendrick
Audio post-production producer: Eimear Ni Ghuaire
Re-recording mixer: Tim Cavagin
Thanks to: Gordon Allen, Vasliki P

Shannon Miller is a writer, podcast creator and contributor to Adweek.